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Between remembering and forgetting: a theological and contextual investigation of nation-building in Deuteronomy and how it intersects with nation-building in Zimbabwe.

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This work seeks to highlight a biblically inspired notion of nation-building which advocates the unity of all the people as an imagined political community, with a sovereign role in the land. The definition of nation-building will be based on Benedict Anderson’s terms ‘imagined political community’ and the ‘sovereign role of the people’ in order to emphasize the notion of nation-as-people which is most appropriate for this work. The emphasis of this work is influenced both by the ideo-theological perspective to read the Bible from the perspective of the poor and from a liberationist perspective which privileges the ‘dangerous memories’ of the subjugated communities in order to work for a future that is better. Within this framework it is possible to bring the use of memory in the ancient community of Israel into dialogue with the modern post colonial state of Zimbabwe. The research will use literary narrative and rhetorical analysis to compare the use of a liberation memory to construct the imagined political community in the book of Deuteronomy and in post-colonial Zimbabwe. The biblical model of nation-building, as motivated by the pacifying memory of divine deliverance and the dangerous memory of the oppression of the people, advocates the ethical liberation categories of freedom, justice and equality to build the unity and sovereign role of the imagined communities. A tripolar analysis will bring the text of Deuteronomy into dialogue with the context of postcolonial Zimbabwe, to highlight the differences in the use of the pacifying and dangerous memories of liberation. The focus will be on the realization of unity and freedom for the people through the ethical use of the memory of liberation. This work concludes that the dangerous memories of the people are fundamental to the construction of a nation-as-people and that the ethical use of the pacifying and dangerous memory of liberation can be a unifying factor for postcolonial countries and a fundamental resource for the construction of a nation-as-people.


Doctoral degree. University of KwaZulu Natal - Pietermaritzburg.