Accepted paper:

The politics of conviviality: traditional rural elites and the local state in Southern Mozambique

Authors:

Euclides Goncalves (University of Witwatersrand)

Paper short abstract:

Based on an examination of life trajectories of both traditional chiefs and local state officials, this paper explores the complex relations between rural traditional elites and the local state. It shows that amidst power struggles, the tacit endorsement of a politics of conviviality guarantees the reproduction of rural elites.

Paper long abstract:

Debates on elites in Mozambique have focussed on post-colonial nationalist and democratic elites and explored elite formation and reproduction based on religious influence, party allegiance and educational background. However, scholars have only recently begun to address the changing practices and discourses of traditional rural elites in the context of recent socio-politic reforms. Drawing on field research conducted in Inharrime district, Southern Mozambique, this paper puts into historical perspective the complex relations between rural traditional elites and the local state. Based on an examination of life trajectories of both traditional figures of authority and local state officials, it argues that although the ideology in different political contexts may have posited local state officials against sections of rural traditional elites, in practice, local state officials have long learned that power and authority must be locally negotiated and that they need to ally with traditional chiefs and influential elders. Furthermore, the paper shows that amidst power struggles, the tacit endorsement of a politics of conviviality guarantees the reproduction of rural elites.

panel W025
Elite strategies of distinction and mutuality