Effervescence and Ephemerality: Popular Urban Uprisings in Mozambique
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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This article analyses the large-scale popular urban uprisings that shook Mozambican cities on 1 and 2 September 2010, following the government’s announcement of successive rises in the price of public transport fares and basic commodities. Using ethnographic material from the city of Chimoio and the capital Maputo, the following work highlights the organisational character of the ‘strikes’ (greves), as the popular uprisings were called, and explores them as a new form of organising political discontent. Comparing them to other historical and contemporary popular uprisings, this article argues that the strikes violently and rhizomically generated ephemeral and egalitarian forms of political authority and order that simultaneously confronted, replicated and undercut the aspects of Mozambican statehood. Deploying Durkheim’s notion of effervescence, the work further argues that the creative fervour, multisemic aspects and festive character of the popular uprisings need to be recognised; thus, this analysis challenges the reductive labelling of these events as ‘riots’ or ‘food riots’.