Theses Doctoral

Zimbabwe Ruins: Claims of responsibility within speculations on psycho-social experiences of exile and diaspora

Reilly, Leigh Ann

The Crisis' in Zimbabwe, which in significant part began in 2000 with the appropriation of white owned commercial farms, is political, economic and psycho-social, and has resulted in major upheavals and catastrophic changes to Zimbabwean society. The researcher investigates from an autobiographical and speculative point of view what it means to live in and after such a crisis by considering the experiences of loss, mourning and melancholia as they relate to the kind of exilic existence experienced by many Zimbabweans as a result of 'the Crisis'. This kind of exile has been called "internal" and "external" (2007) exile by the Zimbabwean poet Chenjerai Hove, by which he means that those still living in the country under the Mugabe regime are living in conditions of exile emotionally, psychically and psychologically just as those in the diaspora, numbering three million or a quarter of the population, are living in conditions of physical and geographic exile. The researcher uses 'the Crisis' as a site of inquiry into considerations of individual and collective responsibility as a possible response to the emotional, geographic, and existential rupture caused by crisis. This study, which is partly autobiographical, but also historical and political, takes a speculative and conceptual approach to understanding effects of 'the Crisis'. The hybridized methods of writing as inquiry (Richardson, 2000), speculative essay as philosophical inquiry (Schubert, 1991), and autobiography as a form of narrative research, allow the researcher to articulate, meditate and speculate on questions regarding loss, temporality, mourning, melancholia and nostalgia, community, and responsibility from a position of personal interpretation, while accepting that those interpretations are fractured, partial and biased. The study proposes responsibility as one possible response to 'the Crisis' and suggests five claims of responsibility as avenues to open up considerations of how one possibly could respond to such formative experiences. The five claims are: return, melancholia and reflective nostalgia (Boym, 2001), art, learning, and community. These claims are drawn directly in relation to the researcher's interpretations of 'The Crisis' and so are not meant to be seen as normative but rather as suggestive. The recent scholarship that has been produced in response to 'the Crisis' has predominantly focused on logistical and practical concerns; this researcher establishes that psycho-social considerations of how one experiences crisis and could live with/in it are of equal importance to the scholarship of 'the Crisis' in Zimbabwe.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
English Education
Thesis Advisors
Miller, Janet
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 17, 2011