The Front Line Runs through Every Woman

The Front Line Runs through Every Woman

Women and Local Resistance in the Zimbabwean Liberation War

Eleanor O' Gorman

Personal eBook

James Currey



Theorizes the experiences of women in wartime, and specifically of African women during Zimbabwe's anti-colonial struggle.
A Zimbabwe-specific study, focusing on the lives of women in a small locale (Chiweshe) during the anti-colonial insurgency, this book is also a challenge to established and still current modes of thought and research orientations which over-simplify the complex realities women face in the full range of violent conflicts, both past and present. By contextualizing the voices of women of Chiweshe, not only is an important and under-developed aspect of Zimbabwean and African history revealed, but a new approach to comprehending the highly-tensioned lives of women in war is presented, which is characterized here as Gendered Localised Resistance. This is examined through the prism of life in the Protected Villages in Chiweshe experienced in everyday social relations, revolutionary roles, and food security. It traces how women forged strategies of survival and resistance in the middle of guerrilla warfare pitted between the forces of the state and the revolutionary resistance movements.
The book can be read as a unique and richly detailed account of the lives of women during the Zimbabwe civil war and liberation struggle; as a wider argument about how researchers can approach and incorporate lived experience into accounts of larger dynamics (war/revolution); and as a substantial and important contribution to feminist historiography and writings on women and war.

Eleanor O' Gorman is Senior Associate at the Gender Studies Centre and a Research Associate at the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Cambridge; an independent consultant who has advised the UN, the UK Government (DFID and FCO), the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Zimbabwe: Weaver Press


2 black and white, 2 line illustrations
208 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
African Issues
Personal eBook, 9781782044468, October 2011
Paperback, 9781847010407, October 2011
Library eBook
James Currey
BISAC HIS001000, SOC056000, SOC028000
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Women, War, Voice & Agency
Situating Women in Revolution: Battlefront Myths & Homefront Lives
Re-Framing Women's Revolutionary Lives: Women, Gender & Local Resistance
Setting the Fieldwork Context: Zimbabwe as Arena, Chiweshe as Locale
Women's Perceptions of Revolutionary Participation: Understandings of Agency & Consciousness
Living with & within Revolution: Challenges to Unity & Community
The Front Line Runs Through Every Woman: Resistance & Survival by Women in Revolutionary War
Conclusion: Women's Agency & Voice in War Reconsidered


Well researched and carefully argued, (it is) a well written, well-researched, theoretically sophisticated contribution to the history of the war. ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

(This) richly detailed study helps to refocus how we understand the role of women in war; liberating our understanding from a binary model or victim/agent that has dominated the literature for far too long. LUCAS BULLETIN

This book offers unique insights. (The author's) analysis of women's survival and resistance strategies in a bygone war helps readers to better understand the struggles African women face in contemporary wars and the methods they use to cope and resist. CHOICE

A grimly realistic book. If you have time to read only one book on women in the Zimbabwean war then this should be it. JOURNAL OF MODERN AFRICAN STUDIES

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