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Race, Identity, and Belonging in Early Zimbabwean Nationalism(s), 1957-1965



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Pritchard, Joshua 


This thesis interrogates traditional understandings of race within Zimbabwean nationalism. It explores the interactions between socio-cultural identities and belonging in black African nationalist thinking and politics, and focuses on the formative decade between the emergence of mass African nationalist political parties in 1957 and the widespread adoption of an anti-white violent struggle in 1966. It reassesses the place of non-black individuals within African anti-settler movements. Using the chronological narrative provided by the experiences of marginal non-black supporters (including white, Asian, coloured, and Indian individuals), it argues that anti-colonial nationalist organisations during the pre-Liberation War period were heavily influenced by the competing racial theories and politics espoused by their elite leadership. It further argues that the imagined future Zimbabwean nations had a fluid and reflexive positioning of citizens based on racial identities that changed continuously. Finally, this thesis examines the construction of racial identities through the discourse used by black Zimbabweans and non-black migrants and citizens, and the relationships between these groups, to contend that race was an inexorable factor in determining belonging. Drawing upon archival sources created by non-black 'radical' participants and Zimbabwean nationalists, and oral interviews conducted during fieldwork in South Africa and Zimbabwe in 2015, the research is a revisionist approach to existing academic literature on Zimbabwean nationalism: in the words of Terence Ranger, it is not a nationalist history but a history of nationalism. It situates itself within multiple bodies of study, including conceptual nationalist and racial theory, the histories of marginal groups within African nationalist movements, and studies of citizenship and belonging. It seeks to critically approach the ideologies and practices of Zimbabwean nationalism, and to interrogate the role race played in defining the imagined Zimbabwean nation, her citizens, and her politics. It also provides much-needed detail into the under-examined histories of minority racial groups and their relationships to early Zimbabwean nationalist parties. The conclusions drawn demonstrate that identities and participation within Zimbabwean nationalism were inherently affected by overarching concepts of biological race and skin colour, and that Zimbabwean nationalism was reciprocally shaped by these factors as well.




Maxwell, David


Zimbabwe, Southern Rhodesia, Rhodesia, Nationalism, Race, Identity, Africa, liberation, anti-colonialism, anti-colonial, imperialism, white settler, colonial, white radicals, white radicalism, white liberalism, white liberals, multi-racialism, inter-racialism, non-racialism, multiracialism, nonracialism, racism, racial theory, joshua nkomo, terence ranger, robert mugabe, ian smith, john reed, university of rhodesia, university college of rhodesia and nyasaland, ucrn, ZANU, ZAPU, NDP, ZNP, SRANC, African national congress


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Cambridge Home and European Scholarship Scheme (CHESS) Smuts Memorial Fund