Through the study of protests, political organization, youth and student politics, this panel seeks to write the dynamics of urban politics back into our understanding of state formation, political subjectivities, and citizenship in Zimbabwe.
Urban politics have long been a driving force behind nationalist struggles, labour and student movements, as well as youth and subaltern politics in Zimbabwe. Clearances and struggles to control the informal sector have shaped politics since the 1970s. Urban councils further provided the base for independent candidates, the evanescent opposition parties of the 1990s, and the MDC's first attempts at governing. As such, urban politics and governance proved an important platform of Zimbabwe's recent political contestation. Yet, theorists of Zimbabwe's state formation have tended to emphasize rural structures, rural norms and rural 'productivity'. Likewise, Zimbabwe's normative political identities continue to be shaped primarily by their relationship to the rural. This panel seeks to interrogate the way in which the urban has been sidelined, called into question, and demonized in conceptualizing Zimbabwe's political space, while also exploring the diversity of urban engagement that have shaped Zimbabwe's recent decades, including, but not limited to, protests, political parties, youth and student movements. Through empirical studies of particular incidents, movements, and areas, we seek to write the urban back into our analysis of Zimbabwe's political subjectivities, norms of citizenship, and state formation.