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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - Institute of Asian and African Studies

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences | Department of Asian and African Studies | Regional Departments | African Studies | Events | Upcoming Events | 04.02. Colloquium on African linguistics: Place names in post-independence Zimbabwe (Mamvura)

04.02. Colloquium on African linguistics: Place names in post-independence Zimbabwe (Mamvura)

"Rephonologisation and remorphologisation of bastardised African place names in post-independence Zimbabwe as dispositif" - Talk by Zvinashe Mamvura (HU Berlin, University of Harare) given within the colloquium on African linguistics and languages
When Feb 04, 2020 from 04:15 PM to 05:45 PM (Europe/Berlin / UTC100) iCal
Where Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften, Invalidenstr. 118, room 410
Contact Name Tom Güldemann

Political regimes have long treated cultural landscapes as technologies of infrastructural power, as spaces for inscribing their visions of the past and political ideologies. The focus of critical toponymic scholarship has been on street names in terms of how political regimes change the place naming system during periods of political transitions. Unlike this limiting focus in critical toponymic scholarship on the urban built environment, this talk focuses on the rephonologisation and remorphologisation of place names throughout the Shona-speaking areas of the country as part of the nationwide toponymic cleansing exercise in Zimbabwe. Most of the names are for components of the natural landscape such as rivers or places in the countryside. The attainment of independence in Zimbabwe saw indigenous names that had been bastardised having the spellings corrected to reflect their orthographic forms in their original languages. The enactment of the Names Alteration Act of 1983 (Chapter 10: 4) formally marked the phonological and morphological alteration of place names in Zimbabwe. This talk explores how the phonological and morphological alterations of the place names that were bastardised during the colonial period were achieved. It demonstrates that the replacement of ‘alien’ phonemes with phonemes taken from the Shona phoneme inventory and the need to maintain the canonical consonant-vowel syllable structure were the dominant methods in the alteration. The talk proceeds to demonstrate that such an exercise is a dispositif in the Foucauldian sense. This dimension addresses pertinent issues to such a place renaming exercise such as who names and why through an analysis of the contexts, technologies, and actors. This talk restricts its focus to the place renaming trends in Mashonaland (the land of the Shona people) because there was a high concentration of mangled names as a result of the colonial experience as compared to what obtained in Matabeleland (land of the Ndebele-speaking people).