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Moving Bodies: Omalayitsha, Transnational Practices, and the Embodying of Movement between South Western Zimbabwe and South Africa


This project examines circular movement in Southern Africa in the context of entrepreneurship, multiple logics of legitimacy, and everyday interaction between travelers and state functionaries. The project builds on the ideas of the human economy and embodiment as a way to investigate how movement can be understood by those that are involved in its everyday practice. The projects specifically focuses on the practice of private transporting of goods, people and ideas between South-Western Zimbabwe and South Africa. A focus on practices of movement has some implications for the understanding of migration in Southern Africa, of economic livelihoods and of the continued development of the African state in general.


Entrepreneurship, Migration, Transnational, Private transporting, Circular movement


This project examines the 'parallel' practice of the private transporting (ukulayitsha) of goods and people between South-Western Zimbabwe and South Africa to explore how circular movement and associated practices in the region reshape the collective self-understanding of those involved. The project builds on the ideas of the human economy and embodiment as a way to investigate how movement can be understood in its everyday forms.

Although circular movement in the region has long existed, challenges posed by continued decline in socio-economic opportunities among many ordinary people and shifting regulative mechanisms from states and other centres of authority mean that this movement is constantly changing and evolving. One result of such changes has been the sustained existence of a system of transporting people and goods that is both parallel to the regular one and is operated by private individuals, popularly known as omalayitsha. By use of interviews and participant observation with actors involved in private transporting, the project adopts a non-state perspective in seeking to understand how this form of movement and its practices are justified, interpreted and understood.

By seeking to explore the multiple logics, practices and patterns that define movement through a focus on its everyday aspects as understood by those that take part in it, the project builds an analysis of both movement and entrepreneurship that questions received understandings of grassroots socio-economic relations, of state immigration practices (and therefore of everyday state formation), and of the place of mobile actors in social theory and reality.

2012 - 2019



REMESO Project Leader

Xolani Tshabalala, Postdoc

Scientifically Responsible

Stefan Jonsson, Professor

Participants from REMESO

Carl-Ulrik Schierup

Participants not from REMESO

Contact for project


Last updated: 2019-09-26

Page responsible: erik.berggren@liu.se
Last updated: 2020-05-27