Frontiers of urban control: lawlessness on the city edge and forms of clientalist statecraft in Zimbabwe

McGregor, JoAnn and Chatiza, Kudzai (2019) Frontiers of urban control: lawlessness on the city edge and forms of clientalist statecraft in Zimbabwe. Antipode, 51 (5). pp. 1554-1580. ISSN 0066-4812

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Abstract

This article develops the concept of ‘urban frontier’ to explore conflicts over state regularization of city edge informal settlements in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare. It conceptualises the presence of ‘lawless’ urban frontiers and ‘illegal’ territorial authorities in capital cities as expressions of a permissive form of central statecraft. In so doing, the article takes forward debates over the politics shaping the margins of Africa’s rapidly expanding cities, redressing scholars’ tendency to neglect central party-state strategic calculations and party politics in their analyses of unregulated settlements. Dominant interpretations generally hinge on state absence or weakness and emphasise localised influences. The case of Harare’s highly politicized city-edge informal settlements reveals the inadequacy of apolitical approaches particularly clearly, as all were controlled by the ruling ZANUPF party. The conflicts provoked by regularization provide a lens on disputes within the ruling party, which we interpret as disputes over different forms of clientalist statecraft. Analyses of urban frontiers can thus help move away from generic one-size-fits-all explanations of informality and patronage politics in Africa’s expanding cities.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Depositing User: Sharon Krummel
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2019 11:32
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2020 08:12
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/85985

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