Conditional Freedom

A Portrait of Young Men's Sense of Belonging to the Street in Maputo, Mozambique

in Boyhood Studies
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  • 1 ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Portugal; Social Sciences: Communication Studies, Universiteit Antwerpen, Belgium
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Abstract

Drawing on extensive fieldwork, this article explores how a group of young men construct their sense of belonging to a public space, namely, a market in the capital city of Mozambique, Maputo. The young men's occupancy of the market was a clever opportunistic move. While life in and around the market provided opportunities and resources that allowed them to “get by,” the way space was lived and experienced in everyday life by these young men made them particularly exposed to punitive systems of social control. Their experience of belonging to the street was ambiguous, as the freedom they searched for became conditional and they recurrently put themselves in a situation in which they became easy targets for police harassment and incarceration in state prisons. The article shows how these young men position themselves and negotiate their masculinities in an urban environment where they are identified as a threat to the social order.

Contributor Notes

Andrea Moreira holds a joint PhD in Anthropology from ISCTE-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (Portugal) and in Social Sciences: Communication Studies from Universiteit Antwerpen (Belgium). Funding was provided by the Portuguese FCT—Science and Technology Foundation through doctoral scholarship SFRH/BD/79513/2011.

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