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This chapter aims to explain why, in Zanzibar, the division between Zanzibaris and Mainlanders (i.e. people from Tanzania Mainland) has become the dominant language of today’s political scene, pioneering particular ideas about what it takes to be Zanzibari. Focusing on identification procedures and the use of identity documents, it uses a historical approach to show that the Zanzibari state has attempted to use identity documents as tools for defining and controlling Zanzibariness, yet in ambiguous ways that fed into the authoritarian and arbitrary exercise of power through one-party dominance, the deployment of faulty instruments and defective infrastructures of paper-based registration, and anxiety over race and class. While explicitly designed by the state as instruments to prevent vote rigging and, more broadly, ensure that the rights and privileges of Zanzibaris are secured, ZAN ID s introduced in the 2000s have instead turned against Zanzibaris’ interests and sense of belonging, being at the core of bitter controversies over unlawful enfranchisement and disenfranchisement.

In: Across the Waves
Strategies of Belonging in Indian Ocean Island Societies
Volume Editors: Iain Walker and Marie-Aude Fouéré
All the islands of the western Indian Ocean are immigrant societies: Austronesian seafarers, African slaves, Arab traders, South Asian indentured labourers and European plantation owners have all settled, some voluntarily, others less so, on Madagascar and Zanzibar, in the Mascarenes and the Comoros. Successive arrivals often struggle to establish their places in these societies, negotiating their way in the face of antipathy, resistance, even violence, as different claims to belonging conflict. The contributions to this volume take a selection of case studies from across the region, and from different perspectives, contributing to a theorisation of the concept of belonging itself.

Contributors are Patrick Desplat, Franziska Fay, Marie-Aude Fouéré, Akbar Keshodkar, Hans Olsson, Gitanjali Pyndiah, Ramola Ramtohul, Iain Walker
In: Across the Waves
In: Across the Waves
In: Across the Waves