The grass versus the people: sacred roots of environmental conflict in the Chilonga communal lands in Zimbabwe

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    Abstract

    This article analyses a conflict that erupted in 2021 between the government of Zimbabwe and the people of Chilonga in the south of the country over the expropriation of their ancestral for the production of lucerne grass. The people of Chilonga resisted being displaced from land to which they are deeply attached and have a sacred connection. This conflict provides a rare opportunity to analyze the often marginalized, muted and misunderstood sacred roots of the environmental conflict that shape collective agency. The article uses the concepts of emplacement and disemplacement to comprehend the deeper and more intangible impacts of displacing people from their grazing lands, sources of water and traditional herbs and medicines, and sacred sites—natural resources they claim to be sacred. Thus, while disemplacement has been used to explain why people find themselves moving, the article uses it to show the opposite: why they resist moving and demonstrate the not easily measured losses upon which resistance to moving hinges.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalZeitschrift für Religion, Gesellschaft und Politik
    DOIs
    Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28-Oct-2021

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