Race, ethnicity and the politics of positioning: the making of coloured identity in colonial Zimbabwe, 1890-1980

SOURCE: Burdened by race: coloured identities in southern Africa
OUTPUT TYPE: Chapter in Monograph
PUBLICATION YEAR: 2009
TITLE AUTHOR(S): J.Muzondidya
SOURCE EDITOR(S): M.Adhikari
KEYWORDS: COLOURED COMMUNITY, ETHNICITY, HISTORY, IDENTITY, POLITICS, RACIAL SEGREGATION, ZIMBABWE
DEPARTMENT: Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (DGSD)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 5648

If you would like to obtain a copy of this Research Output, please contact Hanlie Baudin at researchoutputs@hsrc.ac.za.

Abstract

This chapter examines the growth of a distinct coloured group consciousness in Zimbabwe. The history of this group has not only been marginalised in political and academic discourses but has also been subject to widespread popular misconception. One of the most prevalent fallacies is the notion that coloured identity is a biologically determined, inherent quality derived from miscegenation. Another projects coloured identity as an invention of the colonial state, arguing that coloureds did not exist as a distinct racial or ethnic group beyond state categorisation and dismissing it as nothing more than false consciousness. This chapter will argue that the growth of coloured identity resulted from definitions both internal and external to the group involving a wide range of actors that included the colonial state, the white public and the subject people themselves who, through self-identification, not only negotiated the dynamics of coloured group creation, but also gave coloured identity its shape and tenure. The identity was continually contested and redefined by various groups both within and outside of the culturally diverse coloured community.