Remembering Villagisation in Tanzania: National Consciousness Amidst Economic Failure

Posted: 22 Mar 2013

Date Written: 2013


Debates over the perceived failure of the policy of forced villagization in Tanzania have been one of the most prominent topics in Tanzanian history and political science. James Scott's critique of villagization as the hubris of "high modernism" has been refined and developed by Leander Schneider who sees villagization as a result of a flawed belief in "developmentalism." Schneider's thesis builds on James Ferguson's thesis of the "anti-politics" machine, which argues that development theory tends to sideline political debate and negotiation, and thereby becomes authoritarian. While villagization certainly fell short of its immediate economic goals, and it also encouraged authoritarian government practice, these results must be viewed within a historical context. Tanzanian villagization in the 1970s took place in the context of ongoing conflict with regimes in Southern Africa, and Idi Amin's takeover in Uganda. In the words of one of the functionaries who implemented in the policy, "the act of moving people was very important in the consolidation of the state." Using oral history, this paper seeks to understand how villagization in one village created both approving and critical memories that equally contributed to the definition and affective consolidation of the nationalist state in the minds of its citizens.

Suggested Citation

Bjerk, Paul, Remembering Villagisation in Tanzania: National Consciousness Amidst Economic Failure (2013). ASA 2013 Annual Meeting Paper , Available at SSRN:

Paul Bjerk (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University ( email )

2500 Broadway
Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

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