Accepted paper:

Formalized reductions: the politics of saying less in Maputo, Mozambique


Morten Nielsen (National Museum of Denmark)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores public meetings in Maputo, Mozambique, where conformity with a shared socialist legacy serves as backdrop for the participants to manifest radical differences and thereby experiment with ways of reducing the conceptual space of correspondence between different subject positions.

Paper long abstract:

Despite Mozambique's purported 'turn toward the west' in the mid-1980s, its socialist legacy still constitutes the ideological basis for the ruling Frelimo party. Although its collapse is widely acknowledged, the Marxist-Leninist rhetoric of the Independence era continues to be resuscitated at public meetings in Maputo and elsewhere in Mozambique. No longer outlining a desired ideological path towards a utopian future, the repeated and compressed imageries of a socialist African nation-state paradoxically conjure a political collective that large sections of the Mozambican population are de facto dissociating themselves from. This paper consequently charts the contours of a peculiar political cosmology activated only at public meetings where participants engage in collective debates in order to reduce the conceptual space of correspondence between different subject positions. By actively confirming the socialist legacy - but in an ever more compressed and reduced form, a political collective has arisen where the traces of a shared ideological past serve as canvas for experimenting with ways of manifesting radical differences in a formalized setting. As such, this paper ultimately suggests considering meetings as a heuristic for exploring radical ideological unity as medium for the production of intensive differentiation.

panel P14
Meetings: procedure and artifacts of modern knowledge