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Forskningsartikel2024Vetenskapligt granskadÖppen tillgång

Race, gender and corporeal resistance: reading settler territory through the scale of the body

Rosen, Linus


The spatial architecture of settler colonialism in Africa has been subject to ample research, in geography and beyond. This paper offers an alternative reading of colonial settler territory at the scale of the body, showing how myriad colonial boundaries were displaced onto people's bodies, and naturalized, negated and negotiated through bodily practice, performance and movement. Using Northern Rhodesia/Zambia as a case, my argument is organized around three sites of colonial spatial power: the 'proper village', the tribal 'homeland' and the colonial township. The analysis builds on historical literatures, archival research and ethnographic work to show how the construction of each of these spaces (territories) was contingent upon the making of African bodies as objects and subjects of colonial imaginary. Bodies - chiefs' bodies, 'ghost-like' bodies, dirty bodies, unmanly bodies, malnourished bodies, reproductive bodies - became important bearers of symbolic value, subjected to racial and sexual regimes and power relations, all of which became sites of territorial inscription through which the construction and contestations of the colonial state and its territorial boundaries took place. The analysis makes visible the political work performed by these bodies, how their movement engendered administrative anxiety and became critical sites around which race, gender and territory were constructed and contested in intimate relation to each other. Through this conceptualization, the paper moves forward debates in geography on territory, showing how territory is not external to the body, not simply bodily experienced, but extend onto and out from the body as a critical site of subjugation and anticolonial resistance.


Territory; Race; Gender; Bodies; Settler colonialism; Zambia

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2024, Volym: 148, artikelnummer: 103947

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