Arenas for Control, Terrains of Gender Contestation: Guerrilla Struggle and Counter-Insurgency Warfare in Zimbabwe 1972-1980

Citation:

Kesby, Mike. 1996. “Arenas for Control, Terrains of Gender Contestation: Guerrilla Struggle and Counter-Insurgency Warfare in Zimbabwe 1972-1980.” Journal of Southern African Studies 22 (4): 561-84.

Author: Mike Kesby

Abstract:

This paper explores the contingent nature of war-time developments in gender relations, focusing particularly on the experience of protected village inmates in Chiweshe. It suggests that expectations of dramatic change in the position of ordinary women were unrealistic and based on four analytical flaws: a linear model of female emancipation, a tendency to generalise from a limited set of war-time experiences rather than recognise the diversity of locally contingent circumstances, a failure to include struggles over masculine identity within the analysis of gender relations and finally, a lack of sensitivity to the social-spatial structures that are integral to rural society. The paper highlights the spatial dimensions of war-time contingency at the national and the local level and analyses how the enforced restructuring of rural communities destabilised the spatial discourses and practices that 'normally' structure gender identities and relations. The paper focuses on the extraordinary, and under researched, social arena of the 'protected villages' and analyses how, temporarily, they became terrains of gender contestation. Parallels are drawn between the social impacts of the structures of counter-insurgency warfare and the ostensibly very different time-space arenas of the temporary guerrilla encampments. While each arena had its own unique dynamic, which itself varied from region to region and over the duration of the war, both types of externally imposed structure had the effect of undermining elders' authority in their own communities and of opening up new spaces of opportunity in which young men and women could act.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Masculinity/ies, Gender Roles, Gendered Power Relations Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Zimbabwe

Year: 1996

© 2017 CONSORTIUM ON GENDER, SECURITY & HUMAN RIGHTSLEGAL STATEMENT All photographs used on this site, and any materials posted on it, are the property of their respective owners, and are used by permission. Photographs: The images used on the site may not be downloaded, used, or reproduced in any way without the permission of the owner of the image. Materials: Visitors to the site are welcome to peruse the materials posted for their own research or for educational purposes. These materials, whether the property of the Consortium or of another, may only be reproduced with the permission of the owner of the material. This website contains copyrighted materials. The Consortium believes that any use of copyrighted material on this site is both permissive and in accordance with the Fair Use doctrine of 17 U.S.C. § 107. If, however, you believe that your intellectual property rights have been violated, please contact the Consortium at info@genderandsecurity.org.