Current Institutional Affiliation
Doctoral Candidate, Indiana University / Bloomington

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2015
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Communication and Culture, Indiana University / Bloomington
Transgressive Mobilities: Zimbabwean Women Navigating the Crisis

My dissertation examines the relationship between state power and women's mobility. I argue that in Zimbabwe, the mobility of women has been rhetorically linked to transgression and social disorder in ways that authorize violence during moments of crisis. I analyze the policing of women's mobility during two periods of crisis within the state: the post-independence period of the early 1980s and the economic and political crisis that began in 1998 and continues to the present day. While these were different moments in the state's development, both periods were marked by pronounced economic and political uncertainty. Moreover, both moments saw the state turn to the policing of the mobile woman through the often indiscriminate policing of prostitution. The containment of women's mobility became central to the performance of state power during moments of uncertainty. My research underscores the historical origins of the problem of the mobile woman, examining her emergence as figure of opprobrium in Rhodesian colonial discourse. I examine how representations of this figure have been activated during moments of crisis in both Rhodesia and Zimbabwe in order to justify restrictions of women's physical movements. At the same time, I am interested in how women have challenged these discourses by asserting their right to be mobile citizens. How can the mobile woman, so often positioned as a threat, be recognized as a citizen deserving of rights and protections? In this, my research contributes to a body of work that considers how nationhood and citizenship might be transformed in order to include those who live on the margins of the state.