Author:Inge Tvedten (Chr. Michelsen Institute)
Paper short abstract:
African urban scholarship tends to argue for the continued importance of rural spaces, values and relations. In the increasingly divided city of Maputo, Mozambique there are very diverse types of engagement with the rural primarily differentiated along class but also gender and age.
Paper long abstract:
Anthropological urban scholarship on Southern Africa seems to share a notion of continued, and in some cases re-emerging, importance of rural spaces, values and relations in African urban contexts. Recent studies have argued for seeing the city as (re-)ruralised in terms of its social structures and spheres of social interaction as well as its economic survival and coping strategies, engendering a new type of agrarian urbanity. In Mozambique's capital city Maputo, perceptions of - and relations with - rural spaces and values reveal a more composite picture. It is argued that associations with the rural are shaped in the interface/articulation between the city and the rural as material, cultural and discursive formations, and urban dwellers' different positions on a scale of social (dis)advantage. This has led to very diverse types of engagement with the rural among the urban population, primarily differentiated along positions of class but also gender and age. For the best-off and successful urbanites, who are able to live up to urban expectations, the rural is seen to have little to offer and is largely disregarded. For the poorest and most destitute, unable to fill urban-rural relations with material content, rural areas are effectively out of reach and unheeded. For the majority, however, the rural continues to be an important part of their cosmologies and struggles to survive - either by investing in rural relations and footholds or by pursuing urban agriculture and accompanying 'ruralised relationships'.
Urban margins: new perspectives on the city