Invisible Hands

Child Labor and the State in Colonial Zimbabwe

Beverly Carolease Grier


  • Praeger
  • Santa Barbara, CA
  • 2005
  • English
  • Hardcover
  • 304 pages


Using a wealth of previously misread or neglected documentation, Grier demonstrates that children and adolescents were a major preoccupation of settlers in the mining and agricultural sectors, of domestic service, and of officials whose task it was to provide conditions favorable to the accumulation of capital. By doing so, she uncovers how the youngest workers resisted attempts to control their mobility and labor. Young workers and migrants employed passive and active forms of resistance to assert or maintain their autonomy from patriarchy, capital, and the state.


Grier begins with children and work in the precolonial economy and with preexisting tensions between generations and genders as the basis for understanding why the young of Zimbabwe fled to urban areas during the early colonial period.


Beverly Grier is an American academic in the study of child labor Sub-Saharan Africa, and former professor of government at Clark University. She is also the former president of the African Studies Association.