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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Breaking Out of the Straitjacket of Tradition: The Politics and Rhetoric of 'Development' in Zimbabwe
Author:Robins, Steven
Periodical:World Development
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
Subjects:rural development
agricultural projects
Development and Technology
Politics and Government
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Abstract:This paper is concerned with understanding the processes that led to the failure of a multimillion dollar development project that was touted by the modernizing Zimbabwe State as a possible prototype for land resettlement programmes in the semiarid Matabeleland South Province. In interpreting the failure of the project, which had been carried out for a decade by the Agricultural Development Authority, a Zimbabwe parastatal, State officials and planners blamed Ndebele communal farmers for their adherence to outmoded traditional values and practices. However, ethnographic data from fieldwork carried out in Sengezane village in Matabeleland in 1990-1992 shows that far from being trapped within the straightjacket of tradition, villagers opposing the project were intimately enmeshed within modern discourses and practices. They were by no means trapped within a pristine traditional worldview, even though at times they drew on such discourse to challenge disruptive and unpopular State interventions. The findings challenge the ways in which an imaginary 'great divide' between tradition and modernity has functioned in development discourses to account for local opposition to top-down, centralized bureaucratic State planning and development. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum.