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June 15 , 2009

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms

The Roots of Impermanence


During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for ways to make ends meet. Maxim Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependants, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. Focusing on one farm, this book investigates the role of a hub of wage labour in a place of crisis. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa's agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform. But, amidst uncertainty, farmers and farm workers strive for stability. The farms on South Africa's margins are centers of gravity, islands of residential labour in a sea of informal arrangements.

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