The widespread land occupations of 2000 demonstrate the uneasy fit of commercial farm workers within the politics and development of Zimbabwe. Not only have farm workers borne the most violence at the hands of land occupiers, but their current socio-political situation on predominantly white-owned commercial farms has either been reduced by a nationalist liberation war binary of exploitation/abuse by racist white settlers or totally elided through human rights and democracy discourses anchored in the liberal subject. Based on periodic fieldwork research with commercial farm workers from 1992 to 2000, this paper analyses how farm workers have been represented by the various public actors during the current land occupations and the complex ways some farm workers have responded to these events. The emphasis is on how political actors need to rethink the situation of commercial farm workers if they are to take an active role in the improvement of their living and working lives.

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Journal of Agrarian Change
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Rutherford, B. (2001). Commercial farm workers and the politics of (dis)placement in Zimbabwe: Colonialism, liberation and democracy. Journal of Agrarian Change, 1(4), 626–651. doi:10.1111/1471-0366.00021