Sovereignty, Riots, and Social Contestation

Excess and Domestication

in Conflict and Society

This article explores the enmeshment of sovereignty, riots, and social contestation. Riots have continually marked out the thresholds allowed for exceptions to be declared. As such, they have been the sovereign entity par excellence that produces the moments of politics that need to be domesticated. Interestingly, expressions of sovereignty have always presented themselves in contexts of riots and social contestation. These issues will be explored ethnographically in relation to riots in Mozambique. The relationship between excess and domestication is explored through an analysis of two indices of sovereignty: riots and their close associates “mobs” as excess; and processes of domestication. The first index grapples with t he excesses of riots and mobs, and encompasses, I suggest, all the elements of sovereignty: exception, in- and exclusion, and excess. The second index explores the enmeshment of sovereignty and social contestation from the perspective of domestication, particularly the diff erent forms for control and violence that come into play when the quest for making life and creating order is at stake.