SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Gallagher, Julia (2015) 'The battle for Zimbabwe in 2013: from polarisation to ambivalence.' Journal of Modern African Studies, 53 (1). pp. 27-49.

Text - Accepted Version
Download (698kB) | Preview


On the face of it, the triumph of Robert Mugabe and ZANU(PF) in the 2013 elections came as a shock, not least to opposition MDC activists. However, after a period of introspection, many have begun to construct a coherent and wide-ranging account of the result which explores opposition shortcomings, and the revived relationship between the electorate and Mugabe's ZANU(PF). This article, based on interviews with political activists conducted three months after the election, outlines and attempts to explain this account. It explores the way in which a politics of polarisation that dominated Zimbabwe in recent years appears to have given way to a politics of ambivalence: where Zimbabweans once viewed their political landscape as one populated by antinomies, they now see their state and its relation to themselves in more complex and ambiguous ways. As a result, Zimbabweans' conception of the state is increasingly coming to resemble Mbembe's formulation of states as contemporaneously ‘organizers of public happiness’ and wielders of arbitrary violence.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
ISSN: 0022278X
Copyright Statement: © Cambridge University Press 2015. This is the accepted manuscript of an article published by Cambridge University Press in Journal of Modern African Studies, available online:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 14 Aug 2018 08:17

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item