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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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