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Title:The death of the Subject with a capital 'S' and the perils of belonging: a study of the construction of ethnocracy in Zimbabwe
Author:Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo J.ISNI
Periodical:Critical Arts: A Journal of Media Studies (ISSN 0256-0046)
Geographic term:Zimbabwe
national identity
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02560046.2012.723844
Abstract:This article analyses the dynamics of the politics of ethnocracy in Zimbabwe. Ethnocracy arises in a situation where the distinction between nation and ethnicity is eliminated. The contest between forces of ethnocracy and those of inclusive nationalism permeated the struggles for liberation in the country, reducing them to a complex terrain of mobilization of ethnicity and regionalism, displacing all pretensions and rhetoric of national unity. At birth in 1980, Zimbabwe was permeated by a deep Shona ethnic orientation, partly due to the fact that ZANU-PF has been a Shona-dominated political formation since its emergence in 1963. But the question of subjectivity has remained under-researched if not repressed by those in power, who practise ethnocracy and benefit from it. The article situates the debate of subjectivity within the broader politico-philosophical and theoretical interventions of Ernesto Laclau and Stuart Hall that modified the traditional sociological view premised on unified and stable identities. The article emphasizes dislocations, displacements, discontinuities, fragmentations, contradictions, ruptures and pluralities as the hallmarks of the construction and reconstruction of identities. By the late 1990s, ethnocracy, which had since the 1960s been read as a bimodal phenomenon pitting the majority Shona against the minority Ndebele, became even more complex with the 'pan-Shona' ethnic unity imploding, giving birth to clan-based factionalism within ZANU-PF, as well as fracturing the opposition Movement for Democratic Change into two factions in 2005. The reality today is that every political actor and political formation has to devise ways of managing ethnicity through the official institutionalization of ethnicity at party and government level. Bibliogr., notes, sum. [Journal abstract, edited]