Talking Zimbabwe & Land Reform at ASAUK14 this Wednesday

landhungerNew research from Zimbabwe will be shared at a double panel session at the UK African Studies Association conference this week.

This year’s event is at the University of Sussex, and our session is on Wednesday 10 September from 9 till 10.30 and 11 to 12.30. The session has been organised by Gareth James of Edinburgh University, and I am chairing (for full panel & paper details, see below).

Zimbabwe’s land reform that unfolded from 2000 has been intensely controversial, and remain so. But 14 years on there is a wider array of research to draw from in order to make more balanced and informed conclusions on outcomes and implications.

The work by me and colleagues, published in the book Zimbabwe’s Land Reform: Myths and Realities, showed how some farmers who gained land through the land reform in Masvingo did remarkably well – accumulating, investing and improving production. Others have pointed to the ‘tobacco boom’ that has brought significant riches to those in the Highveld tobacco areas. Such successes have not universally been the case however. Land in some areas remains poorly utilised, some larger scale farmers have failed to invest, and political elites have captured land but not put it into production.

The panel, ‘New narratives and emerging issues in the Zimbabwe land debate’, will provide an opportunity to reflect on new research conducted by Zimbabwean and European researchers in the last few years in different parts of the country.

The six papers that will be presented and discussed are listed below.

Shiela Chikulo, ‘Emerging market discourses in a changing ‘agrarian economy’? The case of the fresh vegetable markets in Zimbabwe’, Ruzivo Trust, Harare.

Marleen Dekker, ‘Navigating through times of scarcity: the intensification of a gift-giving economy after dollarization in old resettlement areas in Zimbabwe’, African Studies Centre, Leiden.

Gareth James, ‘Fast track land reform: smallholder land use and production outcomes in Shamva, Hwedza and Makoni districts of Zimbabwe’, Centre of African Studies, Edinburgh.

Grasian Mkodzongi, ‘The political economy of mineral resource extraction after Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme: The case of Mhondoro Ngezi District’, University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Patience Mutopo, ‘Ethnographic reflections on the land reform and rural development in Mwenezi District, Zimbabwe’, African Studies Centre, Cologne.

Leila Sinclair-Bright, ‘Zimbabwean land reform: sympathy and recognition of farmworkers’ claims to belong’, Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh.


For those interested in finding out more about Zimbabwe’s land reform, do sign up to the weekly Zimbabweland blog. The low cost book Debating Zimbabwe’s Land Reform, a compilation of some Zimbabwleand blogs from 2011-2013, is now available as a Kindle e-book (costing 77p). However, you can still buy the book via Amazon if you prefer a paper version for just over a fiver.

STEPS at the African Studies Association UK conference

Other STEPS research will also be represented at the conference.

Linda Waldman will be talking about the consequences of asbestos mining in South Africa on Tuesday 9 September at 2pm – presenting work connected to the STEPS book The Politics of Asbestos.

Melissa Leach (now director of IDS) will be giving the welcome address on Tuesday evening.

For the full list of what’s going on at the conference, download the Conference Programme (PDF).