A lesser human? Utopian registers of urban reconfiguration in Maputo, Mozambique

in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen University of Bergen Bjorn.Bertelsen@uib.no

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In the age of climate change, human life’s pliability is also re‐shaping anthropological debates. For debates centring on the urban domain, questions revolve around flexibility, adaptability and resilience, while in work drawing on the Anthropocene similar ideas of human beings as subsumable to Gaia are emerging. This article reflects on how these perspectives interweave and imply a paradoxical human figure. On the one hand, they convey a being that simultaneously infuses, consumes and transmogrifies the world. Conversely, the human figure is forged by theoretical and analytical orientations that prescribe that one should abandon such a human‐centric reading of the world. The latter aspect is particularly evident in so‐called ‘resilience governance’ discourses. These discourses presuppose a form of becoming less through reinventing humanity and human life as more adaptable to post‐future horizons of always already collapsed ecologies. Critically tracing this paradox, this article probes the urban Anthropocene and its lesser humans as desirable under the aegis of ‘resilience governance’ in Mozambique, crucially also mapping and analysing the involvement of utopic registers in defiance of such developments.

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