1st Edition

Mobility in Contemporary Zimbabwean Literature in English Crossing Borders, Transcending Boundaries

By Magdalena Pfalzgraf Copyright 2021
    270 Pages
    by Routledge

    270 Pages
    by Routledge

    This monograph explores the concept of mobility in Zimbabwean works of fiction published in English between the introduction of the controversial Fast Track Land Reform Programme and the end of the Mugabe era.

    Since 2000, Zimbabwe has experienced unprecedented levels of transnational out-migration in response to the political conflicts and economic downturn often referred to as the Zimbabwe Crisis. This, in turn, has led to an increased outpouring of literary texts about migration, both in locally produced texts and in works by authors based in the diaspora. Situating Zimbabwe’s recent literary developments in a wider context of Southern African writing and history, this book focuses on texts that portray movement within Zimbabwe’s cities, between village and city, to South Africa, and overseas. The author examines important developments and trends in recent Zimbabwean literature, investigating the link between state authoritarianism and control of mobility, and literature’s potential to intervene into dominant political discourses. The book includes in-depth analyses of ten recent works of fiction published in the post-2000 era and develops mobility as a key category of literary analysis of Zimbabwe’s contemporary literatures.

    Setting out a rich dialogue between literary criticism and mobility studies, this book will be of interest to researchers of African literature, Southern Africa, migration, and mobility.

    1. Introduction

    2. Zimbabwean Mobility Dynamics in the Twenty-First Century

    3. Spatial Orders and Mobility in a Shifting National Landscape

    4. Intra-Urban Mobilities

    5. Rural-Urban Dynamics

    6. Transnational Migrations Between Zimbabwe and South Africa

    7. Transcontinental Migrations to the West

    8. Conclusion



    Magdalena Pfalzgraf is W1-Juniorprofessor of English Studies at the Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelm University of Bonn. She is co-editor of Matatu. Journal for African Culture and Society. 

    "Magdalena Pfalzgraf ’s Mobility in Contemporary Zimbabwean Literature in English is an important contribution to the scholarship on Zimbabwean literature and mobility. The book brings into sharp focus how mobility permeates the works of selected Zimbabwean authors and shapes their overall vision of what is commonly referred to as the Zimbabwean crisis…Mobility in Contemporary Zimbabwean Literature invites the reader to see the postcoloniality of Zimbabwean texts on mobility, albeit ones which write back to a metanarrative of place, time, and belonging authored by an authoritarian African regime. Depictions of movement and the ways protagonists engage with multiple spaces mimic the political forms of resistance which preoccupied the African resistance literatures of the 1960s and 1970s. Through a reconceptualization of mobility and a fresh reading of Zimbabwean texts, Pfalzgraf demonstrates what she calls "the subversive and liberatory potential" of literary mobilities."

    Cuthbeth Tagwirei, University of the Witwatersrand

    "Pfalzgraf’s book is an excellent addition to scholarship on mobilities in literature and to the fields of Zimbabwean and African literary studies. Through her inquisitive close readings, readers will gain insight into the tensions, complexities, and contradictions that shape literary texts in contemporary Zimbabwe. Her analysis of Shimmer Chinodya’s Strife is particularly discerning, identifying mutually exclusive impulses regarding mobility at work in the text. Pfalzgraf’s deep engagements therefore reveal subtleties that require familiarity with existing political conditions and national narratives as well as a keen eye for literary strategies that can, at least to some extent, question and subvert the official story."

    Michelle StorkGoethe-Universität Frankfurt Am Main

    "[Mobility in Contemporary Zimbabwean Literature] offers a way out of the trap of “monological approaches which see the literary system as uniform, static and closed” (Tagwirei, “White Zimbabwean Writing” 5). By including texts by white writers in her study, Pfalzgraf breaks the artificial internal borders of the Zimbabwean literary canon; in Zimbabwean literary criticism influenced by the Third Chimurenga, white writing is marginalized and often viewed as not Zimbabwean. Critical studies by non-Zimbabwean whites are also viewed as suspect, Eurocentric and not suited to addressing the demands of the ultra-nationalistic agenda. In this context, Pfalzgraf’s book is a brave assertion that history, cultural
    production, and national identity need to be “re-theorized as multiple, in the torsions and tensions of different, sometimes incompatible, perspectives, stories, times” (Young, White Mythologies 3)."

    Kizito Zhiradzago Muchemwa, Postcolonial Text 4 Vol 18 No 3 (2023), Zimbabwe

    "Magdalena Pfalzgraf’s book Mobility in Contemporary Zimbabwean Literature is a breath of fresh air. Pfalzgraf’s monograph makes an astute contribution to literary scholarship focused on Zimbabwean literature. Pfalzgraf expatiates migration as the number one issue that has beleaguered both the nation and its literature since the early 2000s to date. [...] individual lovers of Zimbabwean literature will do well to get this text and add it to their collections as a rare example of sober and scholarly Zimbabwean literary criticism."

    Nhlanhla Dube, Research in African Literatures, Vol 53, No 4, (2023), South Africa