“All the State can do is to produce documents, conflicts and obstruct constructions.”

Quote and photo from the field. By ESR Carla Cortês

2019.12.09 | Mia Korsbæk

 

All ESR's are on fieldwork in various parts of Africa in 2019. As part of the dissemination they will be sending a photo and a quote from the field while they are away.   

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This photo and quote from the field comes from ESR Carla Cortês who is doing her fieldwork in Mozambique on the potentials and vulnerabilities emerging from great investments in road infrastructure in MaputoRead more about her research here

 

“All the State can do is to produce documents, conflicts and obstruct constructions.” Middle-class local leader

The constitution of Mapulene as a new formal resettlement in the outskirts of Maputo City, Mozambique, is creating conflicting reactions in relation to state aspirations, and a set of material and immaterial consequences of these constitutions such as enclaving, self-governance, authority shift, speculative economies, etc. The outsourcing of urbanization plans in particular semi-rural areas meet the discourses of modernization and urban development, land provision and entitlements framed in a national discourses of land tenure security. On the other hand, this materialization not only challenges but rather exposes state weaknesses in regard to land delivery mechanisms, in the first place, and later urban land management.

 

The construction of Maputo Ring Road redefined the physical limits of Maputo City and fuelled these private ventures in regard to urbanization, in which small-scale farmers associations played a major role in meeting states aspirations for spatialization. Nevertheless, multiple factors such conflicts due to land speculation, financial insecurity, and overlapping leaderships in this transitory land status into delaying these expectations.

 

In areas relatively constituted and occupied, the pressure for new forms of governance not only reflect the need to securitize urban land entitlements, but also reframe the constitution and materialization of middle classness where new forms of leadership are required.    

 

In a conversation with middle-class leaders, it was clear to me that a new set of mechanisms of materialization of a particular status are at play in Mapulene and go beyond the private built environment. Through the mobilization of the neighbours, middle-class leaders manage urban land through digital platforms stablishing a new sphere of ‘invisible’ governance with tangible outcomes. Bulk earthworks, electrical poles and water pipes, emerge as new material signs of middle classness performed in collective spaces. These platforms not only reinforce middle-class outer connections with the political and administrative power which is required to achieve these local outcomes, but also cement their inner distinctions.

 

A new set of small-scale investments are emerging in these areas, overlapping previous materializations, and in so doing, previous forms and hierarchies of leadership. Land contouring is therefore used as a politics of erasure in which past crop production history is erased and replaced by new possible futures under new leadership.

 

My research focus on the potentials and vulnerabilities emerging from great investments in road infrastructure in Maputo, Mozambique, looking at the material (infrastructure and built environment) and immaterial outcomes (land value, local governance and citizenship).

 

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