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Tenuous Belonging

Citizenship and Democracy in Mozambique

Jason Sumich

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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Multiple Sovereignties and Summary Justice in Mozambique

A Critique of Some Legal Anthropological Terms

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

Mozambique has echoed developments in other sub-Saharan countries by recently 'recognizing' its traditional authorities and extending their powers. Some celebrate this as 'legal pluralism' and what Boaventura de Sousa Santos calls a 'heterogeneous state'. I question such assessments on the basis of case material collected in Chimoio, Mozambique, from 2007 to 2008. The two cases presented here explore the 2008 spate of the burning of alleged thieves and an individual's search for protection in a poor neighborhood. Overall, the article aims to suggest a reformulation of some political and legal anthropology developed in the context of Africa and, especially, to avoid some of the universalizing typologies and individuating features of such anthropology.

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Mimesis of the State

From Natural Disaster to Urban Citizenship on the Outskirts of Maputo, Mozambique

Morten Nielsen

This article explores the generative effects of the flooding that hit Mozambique in 2000. Flood victims from the country's capital, Maputo, were resettled in Mulwene on the outskirts of the city. Although initially envisaged as a 'model neighborhood' based on a set of 'fixed urban norms', it soon became apparent that the Mozambican state was incapable of realizing the project. These failures notwithstanding, residents occupying land informally in the neighborhood have parceled out plots and built houses by imitating those norms. Based on a Deleuzian reading of 'situational analysis', introduced by the Manchester School, the article argues that the flooding constituted a generative moment that gave rise to new and potentially accessible futures in which hitherto illegal squatters were reconfigured as legitimate citizens.

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The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward

The Making of War Veterans in Postindependence Mozambique

Nikkie Wiegink

Th is article traces the emergence of three categories of war veterans in postindependence Mozambique: former fighters of the liberation war against the Portuguese colonial administration, the former soldiers of the Mozambican Armed Forces, and former Renamo combatants who both fought in the postindependence war. The article follows the emergence, negotiation, contestation, and transformations of these categories through memory politics, bureaucratic practices of inclusion and exclusion, and veterans’ collective political practices “from below.” By showing how some war veterans are come to be regarded as “worthy” of privileged state resources and others as enemies of the state, while again others are in an in-between position, the article shows how war veterans come to occupy specific citizenship positions and that these positions are contingent and changeable over time.

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Trans-temporal Hinges

Reflections on an Ethnographic Study of Chinese Infrastructural Projects in Mozambique and Mongolia

Morten Axel Pedersen and Morten Nielsen

Based on two case studies of Chinese infrastructural interventions in Mozambique and in Mongolia, this article introduces the notion of 'trans-temporal hinge' as a heuristic methodological concept that brings together phenomena and events otherwise distributed across time. The authors explore envelopes used when paying Mozambican workers at a construction site in Maputo and roads dividing Chinese oil workers and local nomads in southern and eastern Mongolia as concrete manifestations of trans-temporal hinges. In exploring the temporal properties of these phenomena, we define the trans-temporal hinge as a gathering point in which different temporalities are momentarily assembled. As an analytical scale derived from a specific ethnographic context, we argue that the trans-temporal hinge provides a novel and, quite literally, timely conceptual invention compared with other recent methods of anthropological knowledge production, such as multi-sited fieldwork.

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The Hut-Hospital as Project and as Practice

Mimeses, Alterities, and Colonial Hierarchies

Cristiana Bastos

‘imitation from above’, as epitomized by the hut-hospital. Created between the 1920s and the 1950s for the purpose of providing medical assistance to the indigenous populations of Angola, Mozambique, and other Portuguese-administered African regions, hut

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Conditional Freedom

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

Andrea Moreira

, the capital of Mozambique, which explored how these young men strategically performed their masculinities in attempting to subvert dominant discourses of what it means to be a man in urban Maputo. Through the method of participant observation, I

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The Meanings of the Move?

From “Predicaments of Mobility” to “Potentialities in Displacement”

Stephen C. Lubkemann

primarily on ethnographic material from my two longest and most multifaceted research engagements with war-affected populations from (and in) Mozambique and Liberia. From Inventorying Loss to Documenting the Complex Transformations of Social Opportunity

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Austerity in Africa

Audit cultures and the weakening of public sector health systems

James Pfeiffer

Austerity across Africa has been operationalized through World Bank and IMF structural adjustment programs since the 1980s, later rebranded euphemistically as poverty reduction strategies in the late 1990s. Austerity’s constraints on public spending led donors to a “civil society” focus in which NGOs would fill gaps in basic social services created by public sector contraction. One consequence was large-scale redirection of growing foreign aid flows away from public services to international NGOs. Austerity in Africa coincides with the emergence of what some anthropologists call “audit cultures” among donors. Extraordinary data collection infrastructures are demanded from recipient organizations in the name of transparency. However, the Mozambique experience described here reveals that these intensive audit cultures serve to obscure the destructive effects of NGO proliferation on public health systems.

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Monumental Misunderstandings

The Material Entextualization of Mutual Incomprehension in Sino-Mozambican Relations

Morten Nielsen and Mikkel Bunkenborg

A statue of stainless steel cast in China and placed at the entrance of the new National Stadium in Mozambique sparked controversy between Chinese donors and Mozambican recipients in the period leading up to the stadium’s 2011 inauguration. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among the Mozambican and Chinese nationals involved in the project, we explore the multiple misunderstandings surrounding the statue and show how they came to define Sino-Mozambican relations. Entextualized through materiality, the misunderstandings assumed a monumental form in the statue, and the message of mutual incomprehension continued to reverberate across the social terrain of Sino-Mozambican relations long after the statue itself had been removed. Misunderstandings, we argue, should not be dismissed as ephemeral communicative glitches, but seen as productive events that structure social relations.