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Colonial resettlement and cultural resistance: the mbira music of Zimbabwe

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Across the colonial world, indigenous people were subjected to extensive resettlement projects that removed them from the lands of their ancestors, separating them from their economic foundations, disrupting their resource security and severing their cultural heritage. Many geographical studies have explored the ways in which indigenous communities, faced with resettlement, transgressed colonial space to express their resistance to the authority of colonial agents. This article examines the resistance of Zimbabwe's Shona population to colonial resettlement between the late 1800s and independence in 1980. But rather than focusing on landscapes of power or the mobility of indigenous people to plot politicised resistance to resettlement, I examine the way in which the musical landscapes of the Shona enabled them to resist the destructive cultural implications of resettlement. Framed within geographies of colonialism, resettlement and music, this article sets out the significance of the ancestral lands for the Shona before uncovering the way in which music enabled them to carry those lands with them to the resettlement areas, thereby preserving both culture and identity that could later be reinstated to sustain cultural nationalism during the struggle for independence.
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Keywords: Musique; Zimbabue; Zimbabwe; colonial; music; música; reasentamiento; resettlement; resistance; resistencia; réimplantation; résistance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University, Aberystwyth,Ceredigion,SY23 3DB, UK

Publication date: 2012-02-01

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