On the Threshing Floor: Roadblocks and the Policing of Everyday Life in Post-Crisis Zimbabwe


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




People’s ability to move is highly regulated, often in ways they are unaware of, through vehicle registration, licenses, passports, and stop signs. What happens when the everyday, almost gossamer conditions of mobility suddenly harden? This study examines the policing of everyday life in Zimbabwe, in the wake of staggering economic crisis. In 2008, inflation hit 89.7 sextillion percent and between 10 and 42 percent of the population left the country or began migrating regularly between Zimbabwe and South Africa. In the wake of these exceptional conditions, there has been an explosion of official police roadblocks throughout the country. Based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Zimbabwe, this dissertation examines roadblocks as key sites of engagement between citizens and the state in this post-crisis climate. It explores the ways people’s conceptions of mobility, governance, and citizenship are expressed and transformed in the face of immediate and constant regulation.