Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border Farms

The Roots of Impermanence

Maxim Bolt



A close ethnographic study, this book addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa's agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform. But, amidst uncertainty, farmers and farm workers strive for stability. The farms on South Africa's margins are centers of gravity, islands of residential labour in a sea of informal arrangements.


In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counter-intuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. - Jonny Steinberg, A Man of Good Hope


Dr Maxim Bolt, Lecturer in Anthropology and Africa at the Department of African Studies and Anthropology, University of Birmingham.