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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Modernity and Ethnicity in Frontier Society: Understanding Difference in Northwestern Zimbabwe
Authors:Alexander, JocelynISNI
McGregor, JoAnn
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:social inequality
Ndebele (Zimbabwe)
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Ethnic and Race Relations
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/2637617
Abstract:In the aftermath of the white settler defeat of King Lobengula's Ndebele State in 1893, the Shangani Reserve was created in the remote north west of Zimbabwe as a homeland for 'the Ndebele'. This article builds on Terence Ranger's pioneering work on Ndebele identity through an exploration of the everyday politics of naming as it occurred in the context of forced evictions of many thousands of Africans from 'European' farms in the Matabeleland heartland into the Shangani in the 1940s and 1950s. The authors argue that day-to-day interactions were critical in shaping the content of Ndebele identity. Evictees, whose communities and structures of leadership were systematically broken up by an administration intent on suppressing political activism, were nonetheless the principal agents in this process. They defined themselves as modern and Ndebele, and sought to establish their superiority over communities they encountered in the Shangani by asserting the moral weight of a civilizing mission, and drawing on notions of hierarchy drawn from the 19th-century Ndebele State. The colonial transformation of precolonial identities took the form of reinscribing old names with new significance. These names, though often dating from the 19th century and often 'tribal' in origin, conveyed ideas about status associated with 20th century notions of modernity and primitiveness. Notes, ref., sum.