Inequalities in the Land: Society, Power and Land in Northeastern Zimbabwe, c.1560 to 1960.


African Humanities Program Postdoctoral Fellowships


International Studies Group


In Zimbabwe the phrase “Inequalities in the Land” conjures up images of colonial dispossession and racial inequality. Indeed, Zimbabwean scholarship largely focuses on colonial land dispossession and postcolonial repossession. However, in doing so, this scholarship neglects the ways in which Africans’ access to land was influenced not only by colonial and state authority, but by structures of power rooted in the precolonial past. This research is about these structures of power, their interface with colonial policies and their impact on African livelihoods and social relations. It reframes the question of land inequality not only as a product of colonial land dispossession and agrarian change, but also in terms of older forms of inequality based on ideas of kinship, gender, generation and status. It stresses that if the quest for equity envisioned in land reforms is to be achieved, postcolonial scholarship and states should address these deeply rooted forms of inequality.