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Reviewed by:
  • Suffering for Territory: Race, Place, and Power in Zimbabwe
  • Alan Smart
Moore, Donald S. 2005. Suffering for Territory: Race, Place, and Power in Zimbabwe. Durham: Duke University Press. 399 pp. $23.95 (paper).

Moore brilliantly tells the story of a complicated and contested territory wedged between the Zimbabwe–Mozambique border and Nyanga National Park, and how the fate of its people became entangled with anticolonial and postcolonial politics. The Kaerezi Resettlement Scheme was at various times land granted to a chief and his people who fled Mozambique to the new colony of Rhodesia in 1902, the territory of a rainmaker who eventually came to an agreement about the division of powers (over land versus over people) with the refugees, a private white-owned ranch, the first multiracial cooperative (managed by a young Robert Mugabe), and a site of struggle between "squatters" and a state intent on imposing labor and spatial discipline. The last sentence may give a flavor of how complex this narrative is. The ambitious theoretical agenda that Moore pursues increases the complexity, but it creates a vibrant analysis, which makes this an important book for anyone interested in grounded social theory, not just those involved with the study of Zimbabwe.

Drawing on twenty-six months of fieldwork for his doctoral dissertation, Moore pursues a "critical genealogy of modes of power, subjectivity, and territory" (p. 2). In doing so, he argues for the need to integrate sensitivity to spatiality into studies of cultural politics in general, and racialized dispossession in particular. Different actors understood space in different ways, which informed their actions within the territory; but rather than simple contestation and confrontation, actors operated within multiple, apparently mutually exclusive, definitions. The result is sedimentation of different [End Page 116] sets of power relations, which produce an "entangled landscape in which multiple spatialities, temporalities, and power relations combine" (p. 4). Rejecting the dichotomy between global and local, Moore shows how local claims on space were enabled by translocal practices, such as the exile of local participants in the struggle for national liberation. His main theoretical starting point is Michel Foucault's ideas on governmentality. Unlike many anthropologists who succumb to this temptation, he recognizes the limitations of this approach—which has avoided ethnographic analysis of how subjects actually respond to governmental projects launched to discipline them, and relies too much on texts and knowledge produced by the state (p. 8). He claims to turn to Gramsci to escape some of Foucault's limitations, but more noticeable is a pyrotechnic display of metaphorical innovation, punctuated by bad puns. The result is often brilliantly illuminating and occasionally perplexing, but always intellectually challenging. Theoretical sophistication is built on impressive research, both ethnographic and archival, which serves to inform theoretical debates and generate new insights into processes of colonial and postcolonial power and space.

I have small reservations about two issues. One is not directly the author's fault: the blurb on the back cover implies that the book is centrally concerned with the veterans' occupation of white farms since 2000. Though the book addresses these events and its analysis helps make sense of them, there is little direct information provided from the author's own research, largely because of ethical concerns about protecting the people with whom Moore lived and worked. The second is that despite the wide-ranging theoretical discussions, I did not notice a single reference to other work on squatters, much of which raises relevant questions about the governance and regulation of contested and ambivalent space. Instead, Moore seems overconcerned to fit in all the trendy names, from Sassen to Agamben. Some valuable theoretical and analytical opportunities are thereby lost.

Alan Smart
University of Calgary


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pp. 116-117
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