Honours Dissertation: the beginning

I have blogged this before but thought it would be interesting to reblog.

When “Back Home” isn’t England: making visible the memories, lives and experiences of some white women in Rhodesia


When I ponder on my choice of topic for this dissertation, I remember an incident that makes me reflect on my place, as a white woman and a member of a minority ethnic group, in Rhodesia. This is in 1976 on a tourist bus in Greece – somewhere between Athens and Delphi. An Austrian man, sitting next to me on the bus, is highly sceptical that any white people who are not British are settled in Rhodesia. I feel affronted and defensive that this stranger can, so arbitrarily, dismiss my background. This bewildering sense of being unseen, feeling unseen, is an experience Adrienne Rich expresses as psychic disequilibrium: ‘When someone … describes the world and you are not in it, there is a moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked into a mirror and saw nothing’ (in Rosaldo 1989:ix) I understand that this is my experience.

There is an actual moment when I choose the topic for this dissertation – to explore the memories, lives and experiences of white, non-British women immigrants into Rhodesia. In November 1996 I decide to go home to Zimbabwe. I am feeling homesick and miss my family. The idea of using the time I am there to research the experiences of these women, with whom I share a common background, comes to me. I approach Dr Philip Moore (at Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia) and he is enthusiastic. This, in retrospect, is when I realise the idea has been simmering in the background of my life not only since the bus trip in Greece, but since I was a young girl, questioning my ‘otherness’ in school and in the Rhodesian society. I realise this is the haunting space into which I seldom look, the moments of ‘psychic disequilibrium’. I wonder if it is the same for the other women, and if they will speak to me about these things. As the idea develops in my mind I make the decision to go and to find out what I can.

British Colony of Rhodesia 1965


Honours Dissertation: the beginning

9 thoughts on “Honours Dissertation: the beginning

      1. yes, we do. You found my blog?????? I never even remembered signing up all those years ago! Perhaps I can start putting some stuff there! xx


      2. Filipa says:

        my computer cleaned out all my urls.. lost the blog again – wrote something there – now can’t find it – do you still have the connection?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s