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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam

The Ethnography of a Divided City: Socio-Politics, Poverty and Gender in Maputo, Mozambique

Awarded: NOK 5.5 mill.

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2012 - 2015


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With a focus on the capital city of Maputo in Mozambique, the project will produce new and empirically supported knowledge in terms of key urban dynamics, including the way urban poverty is spatialised, gendered, politicised, experienced, contested and coped with. During the current reporting period, an article has been produced and accepted for publication on how people in Maputos shantytowns imagine and engage with spatial categories of social and political differentiation. A key finding is the redundance of the hegemonic dichotomy of formal and informal urban space, emphasising the heterogeneous desires of urbanity among shantytown dwellers. The practical implications of this for urban development and poverty alleviation have been disseminated through a policy brief (in cooperation with Cities Alliance). The importance of a stronger focus on urban poverty in Norwegian development cooperation has been argued in feature articles in Norwegian newspapers. And our findings have been disseminated through a number of presentations internationally as well as in Norway. In the present reporting period, the project has produced and submitted four journal articles with the titles "Effervescence and Ephemerality: Popular Urban Uprisings in Mozambique"; "Violence and Securitization of the Social: The War Machine of Urban Mozambican Community Policing"; "Here men are Becoming Women and Women Men. Gender, Class and Space in Maputo, Mozambique" and "Sububios and Cityness: Exploring Imbrications and Urbanity in Maputo". Findings have been presented in a total of seven conferences/seminars. Also, funding has been achieved for the production of a film ("Maputo Emergente. Visualising an African Divided City") that is currently being produced.

Rapid urbanisation is one of the most dramatic developments on the African continent and comprises a range of paradoxes: Affluent businesses and gated communities exist alongside sprawling shantytowns; an African middle class emerges simultaneously as rap id increases in urban poverty; zones of urban recreation and shopping mushroom at the same time as cities are increasingly unsettled by violent riots and crime. Acknowledging the importance of African urbanisation, this study will engage such paradoxes by developing an ethnography of the Mozambican capital Maputo through posing four sets of questions: i) what are the relations (symbolic, social, structural, material, political) between Maputos urban spaces; ii) what coping strategies exist for the poorest segments of the citys population, and how do they articulate with urban space; iii) in what way are processes of impoverishment and social marginalisation gendered and to what extent do men and women relate differently to urban space, and iv) in what way s do perceived and experienced disparities in wealth inform Maputo?s socio-politics and its expressions (such as riots, lynchings, unrest)? Answering these questions, we will combine theories of political, economic and symbolic structuration and of socia l relations of inclusion and exclusion as practise (Bourdieu 1977, 1999; Ortner 2006) in exploring dimensions of socio-politics, gender and poverty in Maputo. In doing so the project focuses on a) dynamics of structuration through a spatial focus on meani ng and practice, b) the entanglement of market and state in production of marginalization and zones of exclusion, c) the potential for and the formats of different ways of engaging, coping and resisting the symbolic and material condition of urban hardshi ps and poverty d) the gendered dimensions of urban transformation in terms of marginalization, enablement, and other changes. Methodologically the project will combine quantitative and qualitative approaches.

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FRIHUMSAM-Fri hum og sam