Intense debate on Zimbabwe among Africanist scholars

A recently published special bulletin of the Association of Concerned African Scholars brings together contributions to a heated debate on Zimbabwe that has been raging among African/Africanist scholars and commentators in early 2009.

The bulletin, including a comment by Nordic Africa Institute researcher Amanda Hammar can be accessed at this website.

The debate was spurred by a controversial article entitled ‘Lessons of Zimbabwe’, written by the renowned scholar Mahmood Mamdani and published in December 2008 in the London Review of Books (LRB).

Initial responses to Mamdani’s article were written by such well-known and engaged scholars as Terence Ranger (Oxford University), Patrick Bond ( Center for Civil Society at the University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa) , Horace Campbell ( Syracuse University , USA), Sam Moyo ( Africa Institute for Agrarian Studies , Harare) and Paris Yeros ( Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil) . There was also a joint letter to the LRB signed by a group of thirty-five academics spread globally who have worked closely on/in Zimbabwe for many years.

More recent individual commentaries have been added to the chorus of academics, researchers and political analysts weighing in on a debate that touches on such concerns as: the form and outcomes of Mugabe’s ‘land revolution’; Mugabe’s anti-imperialist discourse and the role of ‘the West’ in general, and sanctions in particular, in generating and/or sustaining Zimbabwe’s crisis; the violence and mass displacement associated with the authoritarian and exclusive nationalism of the party-state; and the definition of ‘consent’, ‘the people’, and ‘democracy’ in relation to contemporary politics.

These latest interventions, commissioned specially by the Association of Concerned Africa Scholars (ACAS) for a just published special issue of its bulletin focused on this debate, include pieces by: Ben Cousins, (Programme on Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa),   Brian Raftopoulos, (one of Zimbabwe’s leading intellectuals, currently director for Research and Policy at the Solidarity Peace Trust, South Africa), Amanda Hammar (Nordic Africa Institute, Uppsala, Sweden), Elaine Windrich (Stanford University, USA), David Moore (University of Johannesburg, SA) and the former Zimbabwean liberation war Senior Commander and leader in the Zimbabwe Liberation Veterans Forum, Wilfred Mhanda.

In addition to these new contributions, the ACAS special bulletin reprints the original essay by Mamdani together with a selection of the earlier responses.

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