The Nature of Whiteness explores the intertwining of race and nature in postindependence Zimbabwe. Nature and environment have played prominent roles in white Zimbabwean identity, and when the political tide turned against white farmers after independence, nature was the most powerful resource they had at their disposal. In the 1970s, "Mlilo," a private conservancy sharing boundaries with Hwange National Park, became the first site in Zimbabwe to experiment with "wildlife production," and by the 1990s, wildlife tourism had become one of the most lucrative industries in the country. Mlilo attained international notoriety in 2015 as the place where Cecil the Lion was killed by a trophy hunter.
Yuka Suzuki provides a balanced study of whiteness, the conservation of nature, and contested belonging in twenty-first-century southern Africa. The Nature of Whiteness is a fascinating account of human-animal relations and the interplay among categories of race and nature in this embattled landscape.
Yuka Suzuki is associate professor of anthropology at Bard College.
"In lucid, vivid ethnography, Yuka Suzuki makes an insightful contribution to debates on race, nature, and nation. I recommend this book to anyone fascinated or appalled by the enduring romance between settler societies and (imagined) wildness."
-David McDermott Hughes, author of Whiteness in Zimbabwe: Race, Landscape, and the Problem of Belonging
"In this fascinating and provocative book, Suzuki steps unflinchingly into the risky ethnographic terrain between empathy and aversion. Taking as her object the violent natural histories through which race continues to be made in Zimbabwe, she unfolds, with great care and insight, a devastating arc of local and national politics in which nature-animal life-becomes the site for the working through of national-historical narratives that are simultaneously cynical, vengeful, and powerfully redemptive. "
-Hugh Raffles, author of In Amazonia: A Natural History and Insectopedia
"As theoretically incisive as it is beautifully written, Suzuki brilliantly explores how the moral imagination of a scorned white setter community was expressed through a cultural poetics that mapped propositions about race and animals into ideas about nature, national belonging, sovereignty and the state. In doing so, she deftly shows how whiteness in Zimbabwe was less an empirical or sociological fact than a moral and argumentative project - one that was dense with contradiction, yearning and regret."
-Eric Worby, University of the Witwatersrand