The Xenophobia-Coloniality Nexus: Zimbabwe’s Experience

Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


Xenophobia is one of the major forms of recurrent violence that has bedevilled Africa in general and Southern Africa in particular. As presented in this chapter, it is the mega form of violence in which all other forms of violence such as racism, sexism and tribalism metamorphosise and are reproduced. I argue that xenophobia is a consequence of colonial heritage. Colonialism either created or reinforced clashes of identity (race, tribal cleavages and ethnicity) upon which xenophobia thrives. Theoretically, I adopt the three categories of violence postulated by Slavoj Zizek, namely, subjective violence, symbolic violence and systemic violence to argue that xenophobia has a logic which perpetuates coloniality through various forms of reproduced ‘violences’. Therefore, it should not be analysed as a standalone form of violence, but rather as the main ‘reservoir’ of ‘violences’. Drawing from the Southern African experience, particularly that of Zimbabwe, the chapter identifies three preconditions necessary for the perpetration of xenophobia. They are the construction and reinforcement of certain identities, contestation over land and land ownership and by extension, exclusion from land ownership, and human movement wherein states’ borders are crossed by outsiders thereby encroaching on the territory of the insiders. The chapter reinterprets the occurrence of violence in Zimbabwe and concludes that colonialism explains xenophobic violence.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Political SciencesUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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