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Age of Concrete
Housing and the Shape of Aspiration in the Capital of Mozambique
David Morton
Ohio University Press, 2019

Age of Concrete is a history of the making of houses and homes in the subúrbios of Maputo (Lourenço Marques), Mozambique, from the late 1940s to the present. Often dismissed as undifferentiated, ahistorical “slums,” these neighborhoods are in fact an open-air archive that reveals some of people’s highest aspirations. At first people built in reeds. Then they built in wood and zinc panels. And finally, even when it was illegal, they risked building in concrete block, making permanent homes in a place where their presence was often excruciatingly precarious.

Unlike many histories of the built environment in African cities, Age of Concrete focuses on ordinary homebuilders and dwellers. David Morton thus models a different way of thinking about urban politics during the era of decolonization, when one of the central dramas was the construction of the urban stage itself. It shaped how people related not only to each other but also to the colonial state and later to the independent state as it stumbled into being.

Original, deeply researched, and beautifully composed, this book speaks in innovative ways to scholarship on urban history, colonialism and decolonization, and the postcolonial state. Replete with rare photographs and other materials from private collections, Age of Concrete establishes Morton as one of a handful of scholars breaking new ground on how we understand Africa’s cities.


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At Ansha's
Life in the Spirit Mosque of a Healer in Mozambique
Daria Trentini
Rutgers University Press, 2021
At Ansha's takes the reader inside the spirit mosque of a female healer in Nampula, northern Mozambique. It is here that Ansha, a Makonde spirit healer, heals the resisting ailments of her patients, discloses pieces of her story of affliction and healing, and engages the world outside her mosque. We come to know Ansha’s experiences as revolutionary and migrant, her religious trajectories, family, the healers who cured her, the spirits who possessed her, and her declining health. We follow Ansha’s shifts in her life and work in the mosque as these intersect with the visible and invisible borders of Mozambique and of its fraught history. Confronting events in her life and in the mosque between 2009 and 2016, Ansha invites us to make meaning with her, as we sit in her mosque, and engage with her family, spirits, friends, patients, and world.

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The Carbon Calculation
Global Climate Policy, Forests, and Transnational Governance in Brazil and Mozambique
Raquel Rodrigues Machaqueiro
University of Arizona Press, 2023
The Carbon Calculation examines how climate science, the policy world, and neoliberalism have mutually informed each other to define the problem of climate change as one of “market failure”—precluding alternatives to market-based solutions.

Focusing on REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), the book demonstrates how industrialized countries are able to maintain their socioeconomic models largely unaltered while claiming to address global warming using forests in the Global South to offset their pollution. By examining the creation and implementation of REDD+ historically and ethnographically, the book traces the social life of this mechanism as it travels across a complex network spanning several interacting levels: international, national, and local. Through cases in the Brazilian state of Acre and the Zambézia province in Mozambique, the author demonstrates how global climate policy has created new opportunities and rationales for unprecedented levels of intervention in the Global South—all under the guise of saving the planet.

The Carbon Calculation critically highlights the ways in which politics has reinforced a scientific focus on one possible solution to the problem of climate change—namely those that largely absolve the industrialized world from undertaking politically painful transformations in its own economic model.

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Confronting Leviathan
Mozambique Since Independence
Margaret Hall
Ohio University Press, 1997

Confronting Leviathan describes Mozambique’s attempt to construct a socialist society in one African country on the back of an anti-colonial struggle for national independence. In explaining the failure of this effort the authors suggest reasons why the socialist vision of the ruling party, Frelimo, lacked resonance with Mozambican society. They also document in detail South Africa’s attempts to destabilize the country, even to the extent of sponsoring the Renamo insurgents. The dynamics of that insurgency and its roots in Mozambican society are examined as well as the process of negotiation that brought it to a close. Finally the authors analyze the more recent attempt to construct a liberal capitalist society in Mozambique. From their findings it appears that this may prove no easier than the construction of socialism.


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Dams, Displacement, and the Delusion of Development
Cahora Bassa and Its Legacies in Mozambique, 1965–2007
Allen F. Isaacman
Ohio University Press, 2013
Cahora Bassa Dam on the Zambezi River, built in the early 1970s during the final years of Portuguese rule, was the last major infrastructure project constructed in Africa during the turbulent era of decolonization. Engineers and hydrologists praised the dam for its technical complexity and the skills required to construct what was then the world’s fifth-largest mega-dam. Portuguese colonial officials cited benefits they expected from the dam—from expansion of irrigated farming and European settlement, to improved transportation throughout the Zambezi River Valley, to reduced flooding in this area of unpredictable rainfall. “The project, however, actually resulted in cascading layers of human displacement, violence, and environmental destruction. Its electricity benefited few Mozambicans, even after the former guerrillas of FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique) came to power; instead, it fed industrialization in apartheid South Africa.” (Richard Roberts) This in-depth study of the region examines the dominant developmentalist narrative that has surrounded the dam, chronicles the continual violence that has accompanied its existence, and gives voice to previously unheard narratives of forced labor, displacement, and historical and contemporary life in the dam’s shadow.

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Ethnographic Sorcery
Harry G. West
University of Chicago Press, 2007

According to the people of the Mueda plateau in northern Mozambique, sorcerers remake the world by asserting the authority of their own imaginative visions of it. While conducting research among these Muedans, anthropologist Harry G. West made a revealing discovery—for many of them, West’s efforts to elaborate an ethnographic vision of their world was itself a form of sorcery. In Ethnographic Sorcery, West explores the fascinating issues provoked by this equation.

A key theme of West’s research into sorcery is that one sorcerer’s claims can be challenged or reversed by other sorcerers. After West’s attempt to construct a metaphorical interpretation of Muedan assertions that the lions prowling their villages are fabricated by sorcerers is disputed by his Muedan research collaborators, West realized that ethnography and sorcery indeed have much in common. Rather than abandoning ethnography, West draws inspiration from this connection, arguing that anthropologists, along with the people they study, can scarcely avoid interpreting the world they inhabit, and that we are all, inescapably, ethnographic sorcerers.


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Filtering Histories
The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times
Drew A. Thompson
University of Michigan Press, 2021

Photographers and their images were critical to the making of Mozambique, first as a colony of Portugal and then as independent nation at war with apartheid in South Africa. When the Mozambique Liberation Front came to power, it invested substantial human and financial resources in institutional structures involving photography, and used them to insert the nation into global debates over photography's use. The materiality of the photographs created had effects that neither the colonial nor postcolonial state could have imagined.

Filtering Histories: The Photographic Bureaucracy in Mozambique, 1960 to Recent Times tells a history of photography alongside state formation to understand the process of decolonization and state development after colonial rule. At the center of analysis are an array of photographic and illustrated materials from Mozambique, South Africa, Portugal, and Italy. Thompson recreates through oral histories and archival research the procedures and regulations that engulfed the practice and circulation of photography. If photographers and media bureaucracy were proactive in placing images of Mozambique in international news, Mozambicans were agents of self-representation, especially when it came to appearing or disappearing before the camera lens. Drawing attention to the multiple images that one published photograph may conceal, Filtering Histories introduces the popular and material formations of portraiture and photojournalism that informed photography's production, circulation, and archiving in a place like Mozambique. The book reveals how the use of photography by the colonial state and the liberation movement overlapped, and the role that photography played in the transition of power from colonialism to independence.


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Football and Colonialism
Body and Popular Culture in Urban Mozambique
Nuno Domingos
Ohio University Press, 2017

In articles for the newspaper O Brado Africano in the mid-1950s, poet and journalist José Craveirinha described the ways in which the Mozambican football players in the suburbs of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) adapted the European sport to their own expressive ends. Through gesture, footwork, and patois, they used what Craveirinha termed “malice”—or cunning—to negotiate their places in the colonial state. “These manifestations demand a vast study,” Craveirinha wrote, “which would lead to a greater knowledge of the black man, of his problems, of his clashes with European civilization, in short, to a thorough treatise of useful and instructive ethnography.”

In Football and Colonialism, Nuno Domingos accomplishes that study. Ambitious and meticulously researched, the work draws upon an array of primary sources, including newspapers, national archives, poetry and songs, and interviews with former footballers. Domingos shows how local performances and popular culture practices became sites of an embodied history of Mozambique. The work will break new ground for scholars of African history and politics, urban studies, popular culture, and gendered forms of domination and resistance.


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The Important Plant Areas of Mozambique
Edited by Iain Darbyshire, Sophie Richards, and Jo Osborne
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 2023
An assessment of fifty critical sites for plant conservation.

The Important Plant Areas of Mozambique is based on the Mozambique TIPAs project run in collaboration between Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Mozambique’s Agricultural Research Institute (Instituto de Investigação Agrária de Moçambique – IIAM), and the University Eduardo Mondlane. Drawing on information from the TIPAs database, The Important Plant Areas of Mozambique includes color maps and photographs, site descriptions, and tables to present information on the botanical significance, habitat, and geology of the region. The book will also address conservation issues and ecosystem services to promote Mozambique’s critical plant sites and inform conservation leaders in government, NGOs, universities, and local communities about Mozambique’s threatened habitats.

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In Step with the Times
Mapiko Masquerades of Mozambique
Paolo Israel
Ohio University Press, 2014

The helmet-shaped mapiko masks of Mozam­bique have garnered admiration from African art scholars and collectors alike, due to their striking aesthetics and their grotesque allure. This book restores to mapiko its historic and artistic context, charting in detail the transformations of this masquerading tradition throughout the twentieth century.

Based on field research spanning seven years, this study shows how mapiko has undergone continuous reinvention by visionary individuals, has diversified into genres with broad generational appeal, and has enacted historical events and political engagements. This dense history of creativity and change has been sustained by a culture of competition deeply ingrained within the logic of ritual itself. The desire to outshine rivals on the dance ground drives performers to search for the new, the astonishing, and the topical. It is this spirit of rivalry and one-upmanship that keeps mapiko attuned to the times that it traverses.

In Step with the Times is illustrated with vibrant photographs of mapiko masks and performances. It marks the most radical attempt to date to historicize an African performative tradition.


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Governance and the Invisible Realm in Mozambique
Harry G. West
University of Chicago Press, 2005
On the Mueda plateau in northern Mozambique, sorcerers are said to feed on their victims, sometimes "making" lions or transforming into lions to literally devour their flesh. When the ruling FRELIMO party subscribed to socialism, it condemned sorcery beliefs and counter-sorcery practices as false consciousness, but since undertaking neoliberal reform, the party—still in power after three electoral cycles—has "tolerated tradition," leaving villagers to interpret and engage with events in the idiom of sorcery. Now, when the lions prowl plateau villages ,suspected sorcerers are often lynched.

In this historical ethnography of sorcery, Harry G. West draws on a decade of fieldwork and combines the perspectives of anthropology and political science to reveal how Muedans expect responsible authorities to monitor the invisible realm of sorcery and to overturn or, as Muedans call it, "kupilikula" sorcerers' destructive attacks by practicing a constructive form of counter-sorcery themselves. Kupilikula argues that, where neoliberal policies have fostered social division rather than security and prosperity, Muedans have, in fact, used sorcery discourse to assess and sometimes overturn reforms, advancing alternative visions of a world transformed.

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Medicine in the Meantime
The Work of Care in Mozambique
Ramah McKay
Duke University Press, 2018
In Mozambique, where more than half of the national health care budget comes from foreign donors, NGOs and global health research projects have facilitated a dramatic expansion of medical services. At once temporary and unfolding over decades, these projects also enact deeply divergent understandings of what care means and who does it. In Medicine in the Meantime, Ramah McKay follows two medical projects in Mozambique through the day-to-day lives of patients and health care providers, showing how transnational medical resources and infrastructures give rise to diverse possibilities for work and care amid constraint. Paying careful attention to the specific postcolonial and postsocialist context of Mozambique, McKay considers how the presence of NGOs and the governing logics of the global health economy have transformed the relations—between and within bodies, medical technologies, friends, kin, and organizations—that care requires and how such transformations pose new challenges for ethnographic analysis and critique.

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Mexico’s Community Forest Enterprises
Success on the Commons and the Seeds of a Good Anthropocene
David Barton Bray
University of Arizona Press, 2020
The road to sustainable forest management and stewardship has been debated for decades. Some advocate for governmental control and oversight. Some say that the only way to stem the tide of deforestation is to place as many tracts as possible under strict protection. Caught in the middle of this debate, forest inhabitants of the developing world struggle to balance the extraction of precarious livelihoods from forests while responding to increasing pressures from national governments, international institutions, and their own perceptions of environmental decline to protect biodiversity, restore forests, and mitigate climate change.

Mexico presents a unique case in which much of the nation’s forests were placed as commons in the hands of communities, who, with state support and their own entrepreneurial vigor, created community forest enterprises (CFEs). David Barton Bray, who has spent more than thirty years engaged with and researching Mexican community forestry, shows that this reform has transformed forest management in that country at a scale and level of maturity unmatched anywhere else in the world.

For decades Mexico has been conducting a de facto large-scale experiment in the design of a national social-ecological system (SES) focused on community forests. What happens when you give subsistence communities rights over forests, as well as training, organizational support, equipment, and financial capital? Do the communities destroy the forest in the name of economic development, or do they manage them sustainably, generating current income while maintaining intergenerational value as a resource for their children? Bray shares the scientific and social evidence that can now begin to answer these questions. This is an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and the interested public on the future of global forest resilience and the possibilities for a good Anthropocene.

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Mobile Secrets
Youth, Intimacy, and the Politics of Pretense in Mozambique
Julie Soleil Archambault
University of Chicago Press, 2017
Now part and parcel of everyday life almost everywhere, mobile phones have radically transformed how we acquire and exchange information. Many anticipated that in Africa, where most have gone from no phone to mobile phone, improved access to telecommunication would enhance everything from entrepreneurialism to democratization to service delivery, ushering in socio-economic development.
With Mobile Secrets, Julie Soleil Archambault offers a complete rethinking of how we understand uncertainty, truth, and ignorance by revealing how better access to information may in fact be anything but desirable. By engaging with young adults in a Mozambique suburb, Archambault shows how, in their efforts to create fulfilling lives, young men and women rely on mobile communication not only to mitigate everyday uncertainty but also to juggle the demands of intimacy by courting, producing, and sustaining uncertainty. In their hands, the phone has become a necessary tool in a wider arsenal of pretense—a means of creating the open-endedness on which harmonious social relations depend in postwar postsocialist Mozambique. As Mobile Secrets shows, Mozambicans have harnessed the technology not only to acquire information but also to subvert regimes of truth and preserve public secrets, allowing everyone to feign ignorance about the workings of the postwar intimate economy.

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The Africanization of a European Institution, The Zambesi Prazos, 1750–1902
Allen F. Isaacman
University of Wisconsin Press

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Mozambique's Experience in Building a National Extension System
Helder Gemo
Michigan State University Press, 2005

Agricultural extension services are undergoing rapid change in many countries, with a shift in funding and management from the public to the private sector. This is especially true in Africa, where donors from industrial countries, and more recently from the middle-income developing countries such as Chile, have historically promoted and financed those extension models. Currently, African nations are being encouraged to import the Farmer Field School extension model, which is meeting with some success in Asia.
     Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, became independent in 1975 but was wracked by civil war in the 1980s. It was unable to establish its public extension service until 1987. The authors analyze the growth and evolution of extension from 1987 to 2004, as provided by public, private, and NGO sources in Mozambique.
     This work highlights the Ministry of Agriculture's drive to develop and test both local and imported extension models and share its experience with other African countries.


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Mozambique’s Samora Machel
A Life Cut Short
Allen F. Isaacman
Ohio University Press, 2020
The precipitous rise and controversial fall of a formidable African leader. Samora Machel (1933–1986), the son of small-town farmers, led his people through a war against their Portuguese colonists and became the first president of the People’s Republic of Mozambique. Machel’s military successes against a colonial regime backed by South Africa, Rhodesia, the United States, and its NATO allies enhanced his reputation as a revolutionary hero to the oppressed people of Southern Africa. In 1986, during the country’s civil war, Machel died in a plane crash under circumstances that remain uncertain. Allen and Barbara Isaacman lived through many of these changes in Mozambique and bring personal recollections together with archival research and interviews with others who knew Machel or participated in events of the revolutionary or post-revolutionary years.

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Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique
Edited by Vanesa Castán Broto, Jonathan Ensor, Emily Boyd, Charlotte Allen, Carlos Seventine, and Domingos Augusto Macucule
University College London, 2015
Participatory Planning for Climate Compatible Development in Maputo, Mozambique is a practitioners’ handbook that builds upon the experience of a pilot project that was awarded the United Nations ‘Lighthouse Activity’ Award. Building upon a long scholarly tradition of participatory planning, this dual-language (English/Portuguese) book addresses crucial questions about the relevance of citizen participation in planning for climate compatible development and argues that citizens have knowledge and access to resources that enable them to develop a sustainable vision for their community. In order to do so, the author proposes a Participatory Action Planning methodology to organise communities, and also advances mechanisms for institutional development through partnerships.

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The Spirit of the Laws in Mozambique
Juan Obarrio
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Mozambique has been hailed as a success story by the international community, which has watched it evolve through a series of violent political upheavals: from colonialism, through socialism, to its current democracy. As Juan Obarrio shows, however, this view neglects a crucial element in Mozambique’s transition to the rule of law: the reestablishment of traditional chieftainship and customs entangled within a history of colonial violence and civil war. Drawing on extensive historical records and ethnographic fieldwork, he examines the role of customary law in Mozambique to ask a larger question: what is the place of law in the neoliberal era, in which the juridical and the economic are deeply intertwined in an ongoing state of structural adjustment?
Having made the transition from a people’s republic to democratic rule in the 1990s, Mozambique offers a fascinating case of postwar reconstruction, economic opening, and transitional justice, one in which the customary has played a central role. Obarrio shows how its sovereignty has met countless ambiguities within the entanglements of local community, nation-state, and international structures. The postcolonial nation-state emerges as a maze of entangled jurisdictions. Ultimately, he looks toward local rituals and relations as producing an emergent kind of citizenship in Africa, which he dubs “customary citizenship,” forming not a vestige of the past but a yet ill-defined political future.

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Spirit Wives and Church Mothers
Marriage, Survival, and Healing in Central Mozambique
Christy K. Schuetze
University of Wisconsin Press, 2023
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, Pentecostal churches have proliferated around the world. Expanding at astonishing rates in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, Pentecostalism has shifted Christianity’s global center of gravity from the West to the global South. In Spirit Wives andChurch Mothers, Christy Schuetze explores how the growth of Pentecostal churches in central Mozambique occurred alongside a striking increase in so-called traditional religious practices such as spirit mediumship and spiritual healing. She follows women—who comprise the majority both of participants in Pentecostal churches and of initiates to new forms of mediumship—through two emergent, rival healing networks.

Drawing on years of field research, Schuetze offers a richly drawn ethnographic analysis of these important religious transformations in the lives of female participants. Illustrating how economic and social context shapes the possibilities for—and forms of—women’s empowerment, Spirit Wives andChurch Mothers intervenes in scholarly debates about the nature of agency and challenges universalist Western feminist assumptions about the form of women’s liberation.

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Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua
Jennifer Leigh Disney
Temple University Press, 2009

In Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua, Jennifer Leigh Disney investigates the contours of women’s emancipation outside the framework of liberal democracy and a market economy. She interviews 146 women and men in the two countries to explore the comparative contribution of women’s participation in subsistence and informal economies, political parties and civil society organizations. She also discusses military struggles against colonialism and imperialism in fostering feminist agency to provide a fascinating look at how each movement evolved and how it changed in a post-revolutionary climate.


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