Veterans, masculinity and expropriation: A Comparative Study of Triumviral Rome and Contemporary Zimbabwe

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Obert Bernard Mlambo (University of Zimbabwe)

Between 2000 and 2008 in Zimbabwe, the veterans of the "War of Independence" from colonial Britain (1973 – 1980) expropriated land and other private properties from the white farmers. To justify the expropriation they tapped on socially sanctioned and popular imagery of power as militant heroism and valor, which is incidentally manifest in the socio-economic and political superstructure. Significantly, Roman veterans of the triumviral period also used violence to legalize land expropriation.  It is against this background that this paper undertakes a comparative study of the social impact of land expropriation by veterans of contemporary Zimbabwe and the triumviral veterans of ancient Rome. A reading of the two societies reveals that violence creates social hierarchies not covered by the law. Perceiving the land confiscations as, in a sense, a continuation of the war itself, I attempt a martial interpretation of the process of veteran settlements of the two societies. I juxtapose the mechanics of land expropriation in the two societies to inspect the role of cultural and martial notions of heroism and to support the argument that war constructs socially disruptive versions of masculinity. 

Venue: Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, Weyertal 59, 50937 Köln, 17.45-19.15