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Farms, farmworkers and new forms of livelihoods in southern Africa

Pilossof, Rory
Journal of agrarian change 2018 v.18 no.2 pp. 473-480
farm labor, farm management, farms, livelihood, politics, roots, South Africa, Zimbabwe
This review essay looks at three recent books on farms, farm labour, and rural livelihoods in southern Africa. The books—Farm labor struggles in Zimbabwe: The ground of politics, by Blair Rutherford; Ordered estates: Welfare, power and maternalism on Zimbabwe's (once white) Highveld, by Andrew M. C. Hartnack; and Zimbabwe's migrants and South Africa's border farms: The roots of impermanence, by Maxim Bolt—offer a range of insights into labour politics and management, new forms of livelihoods on farms and former farms, and how those living on farms interact with informal economies. Usefully, the books cover events over the past two decades, as well as providing regional insights into important contemporary issues. While the books converge in a number of ways, this essay will focus on two key themes: (i) how they address issues of farm management and labour control; and (ii) they ways in which they explore farmworker agency in times of change and in areas of informality and precarity.