Accepted paper:

Liberating taste: food memories and the legacy of the Revolutionary War (1964-1974) in northern Mozambique

Authors:

Jonna Katto (University of Helsinki)

Paper short abstract:

My paper explores the sensory and affective dimension of food, cooking and eating in ex-combatants' life narratives in Mozambique. It shows how in their memories, aesthetic aspects of food such as taste and flavor are closely intertwined with the revolutionary ideas of liberation and socio-economic justice.

Paper long abstract:

This paper focuses on the sensory and affective dimension of food, cooking and eating in ex-combatants' life narratives in northern Mozambique. It explores the polytemporality reflected in food memories (Abarca and Colby 2016), and the ways in which the past, present and future are connected in the present experience of remembering. For ex-combatants food is strongly linked to their memories of the wartime. During the ten-year war (1964-1974), the combatants and their supporting civilian populations lived in inhospitable environments in the northern bush thickets of the country. In the ex-combatants' memories, these landscapes are shaped by their experiences of forced movement. Due to heavy bombardments by the colonial troops, the cultivation of crops was also extremely difficult and there were periods in which the population experienced intense hunger. This paper is based on my research among Yaawo-speaking ex-combatants in northern Mozambique between 2012 and 2014. It traces the changing ideas and meanings of food and eating in their life narratives from the wartime to the period of 'liberation'. After independence most ex-combatants settled down as subsistence farmers with the expectation that 'finally' they would 'eat well'. Yet for many their experience of independent Mozambique has been that of socio-economic and political marginalization. While food is crucial to survival, this paper looks at how food is so much more than just nutrition. As my analysis shows, in the ex-combatants’ memories aesthetic aspects of food such as taste and flavor are closely intertwined with the revolutionary ideas of liberation and socio-economic justice.

panel P014
Unsteady food in a migrant Africa [Anthropology of Economy Network]