As Zimbabweans navigate cycles of hyper-inflation, emergent technologies afford new ways to self-sustain and make place, while negotiating precarity and “other side of the border” opportunities. Attentive to the precarity of Black cross-border mobility, this project foregrounds how mobile phone technologies (re)configure the ways people relate to each other, move through space (including the space of the Zimbabwean diaspora) and challenge pre-existing state-controlled economic institutions. I focus on cross-border running— a process and set of infrastructures wherein members of a new class of Zimbabwean entrepreneurs called runners are sourced online via Facebook or WhatsApp to procure goods from grocery and household stores in South Africa that cannot be sourced locally, on a commission basis for customers in Zimbabwe. I track how these goods are transported illicitly over the border through a network of informal relationships between runners, bus drivers and border officials and which (in)equalities are made visible in the spaces across which they operate. In an essay that centers ethnographic fragments from my PhD research, I will foreground questions of mobility across physical and social (classed) spaces with a special emphasis on runners’ movements across the Zimbabwe-South Africa border.

Jacquelin Kataneksza is a Zimbabwean doctoral candidate in Public and Urban Policy in the Milano School of Policy, Management and Environment at The New School. Her research focuses broadly on informality, mobilities, and mobile phone technologies in African contexts. Specifically, Jacquelin is concerned with how Zimbabweans use Internet communications technologies to navigate daily political and economic precarities and what that navigation reveals about the spatial production of the Zimbabwean economy and nation-state, and Zimbabweans' relationalities across racial and social boundaries.