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Phillan Zamchiya

Senior Researcher

phillan zamchiya



Dr. Phillan Zamchiya is a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)  at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) degree in International Development from the University of Oxford. He also currently serves on the editorial advisory board of Oxford Development Studies and the Journal of Southern African Studies.

Previously, Zamchiya was a research fellow at the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom where he taught on the Master of Philosophy program in Development Studies. His academic interests are twofold: he studies contemporary trajectories of land and agrarian change in Southern Africa and the politics of post-colonial African states in democratic transitions. He has more than a decade experience in conducting field-based research and working with progressive civil society and feminist organisations in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Malawi, Namibia and Zambia.

Zamchiya’s latest academic publications are: The ‘New’ Customary Land Tenure in Zambia: Implications for Women’s Land Rights and Livelihoods. Transformation. Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa; Social Differentiation and ‘Accumulation from Above’ in Zimbabwe’s Politicised Agrarian Landscape. Journal of Southern African Studies; Intra-Party Cohesion in Zimbabwe’s Ruling Party after Robert Mugabe. Journal of Asian and African Studies; Mining, Capital and Dispossession in post-apartheid South Africa. Review of African Political Economy and Inside Competitive Electoral Authoritarianism in Zimbabwe, 2008–2018 in Oxford Handbook of Zimbabwe Politics. Zamchiya is the convener of the ‘Political Economy of Land and Agrarian Reform in Southern Africa’ module and supervises MPhil and PhD students. He collaborates extensively with civil society organisations especially in Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

As a result of his activism for democratisation of the Zimbabwe state, Zamchiya has been a victim of state engineered physical and personal attacks. He is a resource person for many diplomats serving in Southern Africa. Zamchiya is also a creative scholar whose latest informative documentary is: ‘All we have comes from the land. Women’s struggle for customary land rights’.

Research Focus

Land redistribution projects and wider impacts on poverty and inequality in South Africa


  • DPhil in Development Studies, University of Oxford
  • MPhil in Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape
  • BSc Hons in Politics and Administration, University of Zimbabwe

Selected Publications