Offers an ethnographic and historical look at the politics of eco-development in the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border zone. This book argues that European colonization in southern Africa has reshaped rural politics and culture, as neo-liberal developers commoditize the lands of African peasants in the name of conservation and economic progress.
From Enslavement to Environmentalism takes a challenging ethnographic and historical look at the politics of eco-development in the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border zone. David Hughes argues that European colonization in southern Africa has profoundly reshaped rural politics and culture and continues to do so, as neo-liberal developers commoditize the lands of African peasants in the name of conservation and economic progress. Hughes builds his engaging analysis around a sort of natural experiment: in the past, whites colonized British Zimbabwe but avoided Portuguese Mozambique almost entirely. In Zimbabwe, chiefdoms that had historically focused on controlling people began to follow the English example of consolidating political power by dividing and controlling land.Meanwhile, in Mozambique, Portugal perpetuated traditional practices of recruiting and distributing forced labour as the primary means of securing power. For almost the entire twentieth century, a sharp disjuncture in the politics of land, leadership, labour, and resource use marked the border zone. In the late 1990s, white South Africans began to establish timber plantations in Mozambique, and that difference began to be effaced. Under the banner of environmentalism and economic progress, tourism firms were allowed to claim peasant farmland. Likewise, southern African policymakers supported this new form of colonization as a form of racial integration between white investors and black peasants, paving the way for an ironic and contentious situation in which ethnic tolerance, gentrification, and land-grabbing have gone hand in hand.
Hughes offers a fresh, grounded and provocative take on questions central to political ecology in southern Africa. Jocelyn Alexander, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford An excellent study...[that] presents policymakers, activists, and scholars alike with an important and provocative argument that deserves to be heard. International Journal of African Historical Studies David Hughes provides a fascinating study of the history and current state of the politics of land and people on both sides of the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border. This is a valuable work in terms of its specific coverage of the Ndau-speaking people. African Studies Review This is an important book. Its contributions are multiple. The historical analysis of political development in these two regions of Mozambique and Zimbabwe is provocative, and suggests a novel way of viewing the dynamics of colonialism...An important addition to the scant historiography of the region. Anthropological Quarterly From Enslavement to Environmentalism stands out in the debate on politics around community-based conservation in Africa and is very strong empirically. Electronic Green Journal Smart and original, this book will provoke interest and controversy among both advocates and critics of neoliberal development policy in Africa. Its strength lies precisely in its bold conceptual framework and polemical style. Eric Worby, Yale University
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