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Contested Foreignness: Indian Migrants and the Politics of Exclusion in Early Colonial Zimbabwe, 1890 to 1923

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The British South Africa Company’s conquest of Zimbabwe in the 1890s opened the country to settlement by immigrants from Europe, South Africa, India and other regions. Using their position as benefactors of the emerging colony, the British-born settlers deployed various notions of foreignness to marginalize the indigenous populations and other groups. Focusing on thirty-three years of company rule in Zimbabwe, this article examines how Indian immigrants contested the British attempts to foreignize them in the emerging colony. Rather than presenting Indian migrants as passive victims of discrimination and marginalization, the study emphasizes their creativity and determination to establish their own destiny, against all odds. It also shows that foreignness in colonial Zimbabwe was a key factor in the politics of power, identity formation and nation-state building. In that respect, the article explores the constructed-ness as well as the malleability of foreignness in processes of nation-state formation in Africa.

Affiliations: 1: Assistant Professor, History Department, University of KentuckyAfrican Center for Migration and Society ky, 40506USA Room 5, South West Engineering Building, East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, JohannesburgSouth Africa


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