Framing Harm: Legal, Local and Anthropological Knowledge in the Context of Forced Migration
Keywords:knowledge, human rights, forced migration
The southern African state of Zimbabwe, which borders South Africa, has undergone a decade of severe political and economic instability. Migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa has been extensive, and continues even with the slight improvements that Zimbabwe has seen since 2009. In this paper I use migration from Zimbabwe to South Africa as a case study through which to explore knowledge creation within the field of forced migration and human rights, and within the field of anthropology. What are the similarities and differences between local, legal and anthropological knowledge of rights violations in the context of crisis? How do individual, subjective tales of suffering and violation become, or fail to become, supposedly objective ‘evidence’, and how might legal evidence differ from Zimbabwean moral knowledge of harm? In this paper I consider the difficulties of translating experiences of violation into legal and anthropological language and knowledge.