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Tenuous Belonging: Citizenship and Democracy in Mozambique

Jason Sumich

Keywords: BELONGING; CITIZENSHIP; FRELIMO; INEQUALITY; LIBERAL DEMOCRACY; MINORITIES; MOZAMBIQUE; SOCIALISM

Abstract

This article examines changing ideas of who constitutes a 'deserving' and 'full' citizen in Mozambique, from independence in 1975 to the present. I argue that the leadership of the ruling Frelimo Party attempted to occupy a position above society where it could determine the practices and behaviors that made one a loyal citizen and, conversely, those that made one an 'alien' or enemy. The adoption of liberal democracy in 1990 undermined the party's right to define what a 'true' or 'good' Mozambican is, but not the underlying structural grammar. Thus, the meaning of citizenship is increasingly a floating signifier. To be designated an 'outsider' is to be an enemy, but it is no longer clear who has the power to define who is a 'true' Mozambican and who is not.

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