The mapping of urban spaces and identities in current Zimbabwean and South African fiction.
The dissertation focuses on the mapping of the southern African urban spaces and how it is linked to the urban dwellers' constitution of their identities, agency and subversion of the obtaining bleak and hegemonic conditions as represented in current fiction set in South Africa and Zimbabwe. Chapter 1 of the dissertation gives an overview of the social and historical developments characterising the construction of the southern African city from the colonial up to the current global city. The subordinate and marginal identities inscribed upon the Southern Africans as well as early forms of agency and subversion of the Western social, political and economic hegemony that has defined the city through out history will be looked at. Michael de Certeau's (1993) ideas showing the hegemonic Western socio-economic agenda's creation of ordinary urban dwellers' invisibility and fragmentation, which they later subvert by renaming and remapping the alienating urban spaces of New York to improve their own lives, will be taken into consideration in this chapter's definition of the construction of the city and urban identities. In Chapter 2, the representation of the southern African urban spaces' cartography in the fiction is discussed. The characteristic spaces ranging from the socially and morally decayed inner-city, the well-built postmodern and elite Central Business District, the affluent low-density suburbs and the far-away impoverished highdensity suburbs will be explored. The discussion attempts a complex unpacking of linkages between the mapping of Harare and Johannesburg with the hegemonic western social and economic agenda as well as the current urban dwellers' state of individual and psychological fragmentation. Chapter 3 examines the way in which the current southern African urban social dislocation is represented in the fiction. The complexity of the urban dislocation signified by the prevalence of violence, xenophobia and HIV/AIDS is discussed. There is also a dialectical analysis ofhow the depicted urban dislocation is located within the legacy of colonialism and apartheid, the western global cultural and economic influence as well as individual effort and decision-making in the chapter. Chapter 4 explores the ways in which gendered urban spaces are portrayed in the fiction. The subordination of primarily women, as well as the weak and dependent irrespective of gender is discussed. The resultant anxieties, alienation, marginalisation of women and the subservient are viewed from the traditional and colonial patriarchy's construction of the city as a predominantly masculine space excluding women. The western global cultural and economic hegemony's creation of a new gendered ideology characterised by the exclusion and feminisation of the poor, invisible and dependent is also discussed in this chapter. Nevertheless, the chapter ends with a discussion of the existing possibilities of female empowerment notably inscribed in the city's open education system, informal trade space as well as the provision of a social space encouraging pragmatic female decision-making especially in relation to HIV and AIDS. Finally the dissertation's concluding note is based on an evaluation of the postcolonial condition of southern Africa in relation to the mapping of the urban spaces and various identities represented in the fiction. An attempt is also made to place the research within the problematic of whether the mapping is based on postcolonialism or postmodernism. The objective here is to offer the importance of a cross-reading between the two as enabling a more meaningful conception of the region's current urban space.