Dogs in the city: on the scent of Zimbabwe’s urban history

The human residents of Harare imagined dogs in multiple, changing and conflicting ways that were contoured by power relations By Innocent Dande and Sandra Swart Sandra Swart does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Dogs are political. Their very existence in modern cities has goaded those in power into trying to discipline them – and their owners. This has happened in the past too: for instance, authorities trying to modernise Paris in the 19th century regarded stray dogs as belonging to the “city’s criminal, dirty and rootless dangerous classes – to be slaughtered”. But similar campaigns against stray dogs in Bombay in 1832 resulted in civil protest, used as an opportunity to challenge aspects of colonial rule. Our own study focused on changes in regimes regulating dogs, especially those owned by Africans, between 1980 and 2017 in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare. We drew on archival sources, newspaper sources and oral interviews to describe how Harare dealt with its urban canine citizens over the years following independence.

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