University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series > 'Zimbabwe is my Home': Political Exclusion, Citizenship and Belonging in Urban Zimbabwe

'Zimbabwe is my Home': Political Exclusion, Citizenship and Belonging in Urban Zimbabwe

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In May 2013, a new constitution was passed into law in Zimbabwe, reintroducing dual citizenship for citizens by birth. Citizenship laws had become increasingly exclusive since independence, leaving many politically disenfranchised and labelled ‘aliens’ by the state. Notwithstanding the introduction of the new constitution, a great deal of confusion remains over the right to hold dual citizenship, and the eligibility of those with ‘foreign’ ancestry to (re)claim full rights. This paper outlines changes in citizenship law since independence, highlighting the experiences of urban residents and their responses to state practices of political exclusion. Two important issues are raised: firstly, the confusing number of changes made to citizenship law are noted, as well as the duration over which Zimbabwean residents have continued to be regarded as foreign. Secondly, urban residents’ sense of belonging or connection to multiple territories and homes is highlighted by drawing from personal narratives. Strikingly, in the face of potent anti-foreign propaganda by the state and episodes of extreme political violence, I argue that convivial everyday relations largely persist in these communities, creating space for the expression of transnational identities in the Zimbabwean postcolonial urban context.

This talk is part of the Centre of African Studies Lent Seminar Series series.

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