Accepted Paper:

"My grandfather gave me the money to come…long ago he worked here…he was a migrant": the presence of the past in contemporary Zimbabwean migration  

Author:

Treasa Galvin (University of Botswana)

Paper short abstract:

Migration is a historical and contemporary reality in Southern Africa. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana this paper considers the continuities and discontinuities between past and present that shape contemporary Zimbabwean migration patterns.

Paper long abstract:

Contemporary migration flows from Zimbabwe to countries in the Southern African region and beyond have coincided with a prolonged period of economic and political difficulties within the country. In this context, it is all too easy to suggest a simple cause and effect relationship between the economic and political difficulties of the post-colonial state and outward migration flows. Yet, internal and transnational migration is not a new feature of Zimbabwean society. In the Zimbabwean context today, migration occurs within a complex reality that involves historical processes, the importance of enduring social and cultural forms, livelihood strategies and the dynamic nature of migration as a process.

This paper considers the ways in which continuities and discontinuities between 'past' and 'present' shape current patterns of mobility and immobility in Zimbabwe. Based on fieldwork among Zimbabwean migrants in Swaziland, South Africa and Botswana, the paper examines the ways in which current migrant strategies and strategems are shaped by the legacy of past migration patterns, the continual importance of social and cultural forms such as kinship and ethnicity, multiple livelihood strategies, arbitrary borders and immigration regimes. The paper also examines the ways in which discontinuities with the past emerge because migration patterns are the fluid and dynamic response to ever changing social realities. This paper argues that, current Zimbabwean migration is best understood as a process in which the past influences the present while both past and present interact with new dynamics and changing socio-cultural and economic realities.

Panel P030
Mobilities, ethnographically connected: beyond the 'gap' between internal and transnational migration [ANTHROMOB]