Suffering for Territory

Race, Place, and Power in Zimbabwe

Suffering for Territory

Book Pages: 424 Illustrations: 15 b&w photos, 2 maps Published: September 2005

Author: Donald S. Moore

African Studies, Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Since 2000, black squatters have forcibly occupied white farms across Zimbabwe, reigniting questions of racialized dispossession, land rights, and legacies of liberation. Donald S. Moore probes these contentious politics by analyzing fierce disputes over territory, sovereignty, and subjection in the country’s eastern highlands. He focuses on poor farmers in Kaerezi who endured colonial evictions from their ancestral land and lived as refugees in Mozambique during Zimbabwe’s guerrilla war. After independence in 1980, Kaerezians returned home to a changed landscape. Postcolonial bureaucrats had converted their land from a white ranch into a state resettlement scheme. Those who defied this new spatial order were threatened with eviction. Moore shows how Kaerezians’ predicaments of place pivot on memories of “suffering for territory,” at once an idiom of identity and entitlement. Combining fine-grained ethnography with innovative theoretical insights, this book illuminates the complex interconnections between local practices of power and the wider forces of colonial rule, nationalist politics, and global discourses of development.

Moore makes a significant contribution to postcolonial theory with his conceptualization of “entangled landscapes” by articulating racialized rule, situated sovereignties, and environmental resources. Fusing Gramscian cultural politics and Foucault’s analytic of governmentality, he enlists ethnography to foreground the spatiality of power. Suffering for Territory demonstrates how emplaced micro-practices matter, how the outcomes of cultural struggles are contingent on the diverse ways land comes to be inhabited, labored upon, and suffered for.


Suffering for Territory is an important and timely contribution to Zimbabwe’s social history...It is to be highly recommended...and is one of the best anthropological works on Zimbabwe to be published in the last decade” — Andrew Hartnack, Journal of Contemporary African Studies

Suffering for Territory is one of those rare monographs that has much to offer to numerous audiences as it interlayers a sophisticated theoretical analysis with highly insightful historical and ethnographic detail. It also combines a carefully situated political and ethical commentary with an engaging writing style that easily carries the reader through a rich landscape while conveying a historicized terrain of power and struggles, localized vulnerabilities, and ironic humor.” — Blair Rutherford, African Studies Review

“[Suffering for Territory] is filled with beautiful narrative descriptions of social landscape. . . . It is Moore’s strength that he has provided a literary context for Zimbabweans to be heard. Moore diligently takes great pains to reconstruct history through the perspectives of those who remember it. . . . We realize in this book that who has the right to rule goes hand-in-hand with who has the right to allocate territory.”
— Erica L. Bornstein, American Anthropologist

“[A] highly interesting book. . . . [Moore’s] ethnography is rich and detailed. . . . Moore tries to provide the reader not only with a detailed case study, but also with a new theoretical framework to analyse natural resource conflicts. In my opinion he wonderfully succeeds in this endeavour, . . .” — Marja Spierenburg, Journal of Modern African Studies

“[T]he book tells of an important era in the history of Zimbabwe. It illustrates well a variety of relations that have been unfolding before and since independence. It provides useful insights into relations of power, control and territory.” — M. F. C. Bourdillon, Development and Change

“[T]he text has a thorough theoretical grounding, which is backed up by Moore’s fieldwork.” — Cameron McCormick, Cultural Geographies

“[This] study has so much to offer in terms of historical insights as well as grounded methodology, serving as a model of the type of scholarship required to understand the complex relationships between local practices of power, and the broader forces of colonial and postcolonial rule.” — Pius S. Nyambara, International Journal of African Historical Studies

“Anthropologist Donald Moore has produced a path-breaking study of place and the cultural politics of development in Africa. From the opening pages of this provocative new work, the reader is treated to an evocative, at times poetical, prose. . . . Suffering for Territory is a highly original piece of ethnographic writing. Moore has succeeded in merging past and present, theory and ethnography, and the local and the global into a seamless narrative. The book is a postdisciplinary triumph that effortlessly blends social theory with the concepts and analytics of anthropology, history, and geography.” — Roderick P Neumann, Environment and Planning D

“Donald Moore’s Suffering for Territory is a work of ambitious scholarship making a significant contribution to current agrarian research in Africa and the developing world. . . . Moore’s ethnographic approach, which brings his inquiry to full life, while his consultation of archival sources builds a terrain of collaborative evidence making the book useful to an audience engaging with contemporary Zimbabwe and the developing world.” — Maxwell Zhira, Past Imperfect

“Moore brilliantly tells the story of a complicated and contested territory wedged between the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border and Nyanga National Park, and how the fate of its people became entangled with anticolonial and postcolonial politics.“ — Alan Smart, Africa Today

“One of Moore’s talents is not to separate ethnography from theory. He moves effortlessly and insightfully from an old woman’s description of the distinctions between ‘chief,’ ‘rainmaker,’ and ‘president’ to discussion of different theories of sovereignty and its entanglement in ‘multiple temporalities and spatialities,’ which inform postcolonial politics.”
— Pauline E. Peters, American Ethnologist

“This book represents a wonderful piece of ethnography conducted by an enthusiastic and engaged anthropologist . . . . beautifully written . . . . Moore’s ethnography would be helpful to anyone interested in issues of sovereignty over land and resources, political economy, and African studies.” — Fernanda Claudio, The Australian Journal of Anthropology

“This book rewrites academic debate over land, environment and power in Zimbabwe, and beyond, and if non-specialists find some of its narrative dense and too hard to penetrate, then I urge them to read on and persevere, for this book is truly a remarkable achievement.” — Joost Fontein, African Affairs

“This is a remarkable book in many ways. For the author not only observed ‘the natives,’ as anthropologists are wont to do, he actually joined them. As a result, he provides a vivid picture of life in a resettlement area, beginning with the building of his own hut in the village and going on to the planting of trees and the mediation of local land disputes.” — Elaine Windrich, H-SAfrica, H-Net Reviews

“This is a significant and striking book.” — Terrence Ranger, Africa

“Using well researched and brilliantly presented ethnographies and social histories of the Tangwena People's Kaerezi Ranch (one of the most symbolic arenas in the struggle for independence and racial equality), Moore sifts through the 'sediments' of history and present day dynamics to tell a story of how the contemporary spatial and agrarian structure emerged and is articulated in the lived experiences of villagers in Nyamutsapa (the location of most of his field work).” — Admos Osmund Chimhowu, Journal of Agrarian Change

“When Zimbabweans describe someone who can really speak Shona they say, ‘He speaks deep Shona.’ One might say the same for Donald Moore’s exceptional book. It is deep ethnography.” — Erica L. Bornstein, American Ethnologist

"Moore has produced a comprehensive analytical history of the land question in Kaerezi District. . . . Includes useful maps of the Nyanga and Kaerezi districts; numerous photos illustrating landscapes and Kaerezian peoples; and extensive footnotes and bibliography. Highly recommended." — M.E. Doro, Choice

“Donald S. Moore’s Suffering for Territory is a paradigm-shattering work in agrarian studies. Combining an impressive ethnographic study of land struggle in contemporary Zimbabwe with critical theories of sovereignty, hegemony, and race, Moore decisively and masterfully rereads the history of Zimbabwe and southern Africa through the prism of settler colonialism, colonial capitalism, and their legacies.” — Elizabeth A. Povinelli, author of The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism

“This widely suggestive book—a model of hospitable thought—combines erudition, theoretical insights, and literary inventiveness with well-crafted ethnography. In the process, it rewrites not only the histories of land, but also the histories of life, race, and sovereignty in Zimbabwe.” — Achille Mbembe, author of On the Postcolony

“Suffering for Territory is an outstanding work of scholarship, which combines innovative theory with vivid ethnographic detail to produce an unusually illuminating view of land, livelihoods, and politics in contemporary rural Zimbabwe. With enormous erudition and keen observational insight, Donald S. Moore shows convincingly how both territories and the subjects who inhabit them can be understood as the contingent products of dynamic social and historical processes. The book’s combination of sophisticated theoretical analysis and deep ethnographic understanding makes it one of the most important contributions to the anthropology of Africa to appear in recent years.” — James Ferguson, author of Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Donald S. Moore is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a coeditor of Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface ix

Acknowledgments xv

Abbreviations xix

Introduction: Situated Struggles 1

Part I. Governing Space

1. Lines of Dissent 35

2. Disciplining Development 68

3. Landscapes of Livelihood 96

Part II. Colonial Cartographies

4. Racialized Dispossession 129

5. The Ethnic Spatial Fix 153

6. Enduring Evictions 184

Part III. Entangled Landscapes

7. Selective Sovereignties 219

8. Spatial Subjection 250

9. The Traction of Rights and Rule 281

Epilogue: Effective Articulations 310

Notes 323

References 365

Index 387
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3570-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3582-5
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