Current Institutional Affiliation
Sessional Lecturer, Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

Award Information

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship 2016
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand
‘Operating under the Radar’: Rethinking Forestry Plantation Workers’ Resistance & Quiescence in Zimbabwe’s Eastern Highlands, Chimanimani District.

This research explores the everyday, subtle forms of resistance (or quiescence) that waged rural agricultural workers develop, and how they execute them at the political and material level to mediate constraints under agrarian accumulation. Conventional wisdom focuses more on the overt, militant, and key points of farm worker class struggles such as street demonstrations, strikes and social movements. Yet these moments are few and far between. Thus, little is known, that is theoretically and methodologically nuanced, in terms of what actually happens in terms of worker consciousness and action, in between the key moments of the well documented open resistance. That is, this study contributes to literature and methodology in terms of the forms, nature and significance of the ordinary day-to-day, subtle, undeclared forms of class consciousness and action that farm workers engage as they try to reproduce themselves socio-economically under precariousness. The ethnographic study occurs on two neighbouring forestry plantation estates (one privately owned and the other wholly government owned) in Chimanimani district of Zimbabwe. Participant observation and narratives will be the key data collection tools. Emic validity will be achieved through iterative, rigorous, repetitive onsite observations of, and/or participation in the farm workers' ordinary daily experiences of power, domination and resistance. Meanings and patterns will be discerned from the participants' insider views. Reflexive validity will be achieved through the constant reflection, awareness and acknowledgement of my own influences on, and reactions to the field outcomes.