Recent scholarship attests not only to the viability of biographical accounts in writing Zimbabwean history and politics on an academic basis, but also the need to develop further this genre. Taking a closer and more systematic look at the actors’ experiences, motivations and actions allows us to reconceptualise both colonial and postcolonial Zimbabwean politics and society.
The biographical approach engages particularly well with the enduring quest to understand, in particular, liberation era dynamics (1960s to independence), early post-independence developments (1980 to the 1990s), and from 2000 onward, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF)’s power-retention politics and the opposition’s counterhegemonic endeavours. Histories of the individual help capture the broader and largely contradictory social ideas and struggles at play during the different epochs, in addition to establishing connections across time and space.
The volume will contribute to the development of the biographical genre in historical studies. In the context of Zimbabwean history, society, and politics, it strives to trigger the rethinking of academic orthodoxies and traditions, the adoption of new sources, and the reimagination of old stories.
Historical and interdisciplinary biographical accounts of particular interest include (but are not limited to):
● Trade unionists
● Student leaders
● Public intellectuals
● Diaspora figures
● Opposition politicians
● Military officials
● ZANU-PF dissenters
● War veterans
● Female politicians
● Religious officials
● Propagandists and ideologues
● Indigenous business people
● Matabeleland disturbances actors
● Youth activists
Those interested in contributing a piece on a figure active in Zimbabwean politics and society between 1960 and the present, should submit an abstract of 150 to 300 words by 30 April 2023 to firstname.lastname@example.org. A draft, ranging from 4,000 to 8,000 words, should be in place by 1 November 2023. If funding allows, an in-person conference to present the papers may be held in the first half of 2024 at the University of the Free State, South Africa.
Lotti Nkomo, University of the Free State
Brooks Marmon, The Ohio State University
Melusi Nkomo, University of Zurich