Wits Press author Maxim Bolt wins Ethnography award for his book, Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence

Congratulations to Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt winner of the 2016 BBC Thinking Allowed / British Sociological Association award for Ethnography with his book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence. Thinking Allowed in association with the British Sociological Association offers the annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography: the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.

Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence, explores uncertainty in a post-apartheid South Africa. During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for work as farm labourers. Maxim Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependants, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.  A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa’s agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform.

Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope said about Bolt’s book “in precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counterintuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. The monograph sheds light on new and important social processes. It is a significant achievement.”

 Maxim Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham and a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand. His doctoral thesis, on whose research this monograph draws, was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK.


  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b076mmlc  – Listen to an interview with Maxim Bolt, the winner of the 2016 British Sociological Association & Thinking Allowed Ethnography award, as he talks to Laurie Taylor about his groundbreaking study of insecure lives on the border farms between Zimbabwe and South Africa. How do people create homes and stability in times of mass unemployment and uncertainty?

(The interview starts at 10:36 minutes into the sound clip that has been linked.)

For more info contact:

Corina Van Der Spoel – Marketing Coordinator, Wits University Press | PO Wits, 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa | Tel: +27 11 717 8705/8700| 083 440 0944 | www.witspress.co.za







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