Conciliatory whiteness: white farmers’ accommodations and responses to land reform in Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
March 2020
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This article seeks to contribute to growing academic literature on land reform and whiteness in Zimbabwe, where there have been calls for nuance in the analysis of agrarian change. The research which underpins it explores differentiated responses to land reform on the part of a sample of white farmers (as well as A1 and A2 beneficiaries), in the environs of Matobo district, Matabeleland South, Zimbabwe. It characterises a range of responses on the part of white farmers – dropping out, pushing back, accommodating and adapting – and charts the various outcomes of these strategies. I further utilise the concept of subjectivity to reflect on these diverse responses and to disaggregate essentialised or homogenised understandings of whiteness. The article focuses on the small number of white farmers who retain a connection to the land and agrarian production in the study area and argues they embody aspects of a particular subjectivity. This conciliatory subjectivity is characterised by openness to reconciliation, rapprochement and partnership-making. Specifically, it is located along the following lines: (1) in contrast to the perceived ‘islands of privilege’ of some of their peers; (2) within a challenging context where they no longer occupy a hegemonic position; (3) wherein they are inclined or required to (re)form collaborations and alliances in the new dispensation; and (4) the subjectivity of these farmers could be said to be pre-occupied less with issues of identity and belonging, than with surviving and ‘becoming’ amidst the multi-faceted challenges of contemporary Zimbabwean rural agricultural endeavours and socio-political life

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Adrian Nel

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