Beyond food security: a political ecology of postcolonial foodways and 'good' food in urban Zimbabwe
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date30/11/2021
Brouwer, Sara Filippa
This thesis looks at the foodways of urban Zimbabweans in their daily lives. Foodways encompass the social, cultural and economic meanings, practices and processes in the production, sourcing, preparation and consumption of food. More specifically, I investigate what ‘good’ food means to urban Zimbabweans and critically evaluate how ideas and practices about ‘good’ food (hereafter without quotation marks) intersect with socio-ecological, economic and political processes at different personal and structural interconnected scales. Drawing upon six months of ethnographic participant observation and qualitative interviews in Chitungwiza and Johannesburg, this thesis demonstrates that urban Zimbabweans’ daily engagements with food involve complex social and cultural meanings and practices. Using a political ecology lens, it also shows that urbanites’ food relationships stand in relation to agrarian histories, colonial value systems borne out of colonial policies of conquest and control and post-independence structural violence. I demonstrate how urban Zimbabweans create a narrative of natural and local good food that is based on socio-ecological imaginaries of ways of being and living in kumusha, their rural ancestral homeland. I, furthermore, examine how urbanites negotiate this good food narrative with other valorisations of good food that are based on ideas of progress, development, modernity and social hierarchies. Lastly, I look at how gendered roles and responsibilities regarding the provision of good food are produced, employed and contested in the household and intersect with race and colonial discourses of domesticity. This thesis contributes to debates about how Zimbabwean and African urban residents’ daily relationships to food are conceptualised. By considering urbanites’ multifarious foodways and how good food is constructed in space and in time, this thesis complicates the prevailing paradigm of the study of food in urban Africa, which is dominated by the food security framework and crisis narrative that understand food relationships in an instrumental way and as economically preordained.