The dissertation examines Malawian women's migration from their natal homes to the colonial capital of Zimbabwe, Harare between 1940 and 1980. It stresses that though colonial states in the two territories instituted policies designed to limit or deny women access into the migrant stream, women challenged such policies. Especially from the 1940s, the government instituted a male oriented migrant system which spurred the most massive rural exodus from Malawi, draining rural areas of the able bodied male laborers. It also caused serious family disintegration leading to the escalation of women's vulnerabilities, forcing many to flee the villages against state efforts to limit their mobility. They entered and settled in Zimbabwe's capital, although the colonial government sought to deny them access and primarily preferred male workers.Even so, women faced serious hardships en-route and also in Harare due to brutal police inspections, arrests and repatriations.The had very limited, if any formal employment opportunities, and had to establish economic ventures such as urban farming, beer brewing and usury to supplement their husbands' meager wages and survive as families. In varied ways they coped with, fought against and resisted the male biased system in both Malawi and Zimbabwe. In the process, the women who migrated from a wide diversity of ethnic groups renegotiated their identities in Harare, constituting national oriented welfare and burial associations to cope with urban life.By the 1970s, they had also drawn from events in Malawi where African nationalism triumphed with the rise of Kamuzu Banda. Adopting the concepts of umodzi/ unity and dziko/ nation which became central in national identity formation in Malawi, migrant women redefined themselves as Malawian , even as they remained migrants in Harare, where they illegally settled and transformed the social and economic landscape.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2011. Major: History. Advisors:Allen F. Isaacman, Helena Pohlandt McCormick. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 275 pages, appendices p. 269-275.
"We faced Mabvuto": a gendered socio-economic history of Malawian women's migration and survival in Harare, 1940-1980..
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