Reviews of the book, Zimbabwe’s Land Reform, are now piling up – Henry Bernstein in the Journal of Agrarian Change (coming soon), Lionel Cliffe in the Review of African Political Economy, Busani Mpofu in African Affairs, Kirk Helliker in the Journal of Contemporary African Studies, along with quite a few others. Check these out on the website
A consistent feature of these is the recognition of the importance of detailed empirical work to overcome the polarisation that has characterised the ‘debate’ on Zimbabwe’s land reform. There are critiques too. We are accused of not dealing with the wider political context, of being naïve perhaps of what is possible, and of course there are the usual qualifications (which we make ourselves of course) about this being only about one province.
In an interview, I respond to some of these critiques, and a wider assessment of the broader politics of a new agrarian dynamic of ‘accumulation from below’, and associated rural differentiation and class formation, is certainly due (and hopefully will appear in some articles soon).
But overall we are pleased with the positive reception by serious academics and commentators. In most people’s views the book is not politics ‘dressed up as research’, as Dale Dore suggested in a Kubatana post, but actually a solid empirical contribution to a complex debate, urgently in need of nuancing.