PhD Thesis

MANAGING A COMMONS: COMMUNITY MANAGEMENT OF INDIGENOUS WOODLANDS IN CHIMANIMANI DISTRICT, ZIMBABWE

A thesis submitted in conformity with the requirements for the PhD degree in the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto
© Michael O’Flaherty (1997)

Abstract

The history of rural resistance in the colonial Reserves demonstrated to the Rhodesian administration that control over land was only effectively secured through force (i.e. military occupation). In Independent Zimbabwe, control over land and resources in the rural areas is complex and divided and yet local forces often maintain a surprising degree of resilience in spite of a multitude of forces that threaten local control. In particular, significant opportunities exist for external intervention through ostensibly benign development activities carried out by state agencies. The threat to local control over resources posed by development activities is something that needs greater attention, particularly by the citizens of those countries that design and fund development projects that are carried out in places like Zimbabwe. The thesis documents a local resource management regime and argues that there exists a firm basis for expanding local participation in and control over the “development process.” Defining woodland management broadly as the regulation of access to and use of trees, this study reveals a level of complexity and dynamism at times overlooked by planners and scholars alike. The nature and coherence of local woodlands management in the study area are discussed and implications for theory are explored.

map of Zimbabwe showing community of Gudyanga

Location of Gudyanga (study site) in Zimbabwe

Link to Annotated Table of Contents
Link to full text of thesis (18MB pdf)

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