This post builds on the research article “Remains: to be Seen. Third Encounter between State and "Customary" in Northern Mozambique,” which was published in the May 2010 issue of the Society’s peer-reviewed journal, Cultural Anthropology.
Cultural Anthropology has published a number of essays on neoliberalism in Africa. See, for example, Julie Livingston's "Suicide, Risk, and Investment in the Heart of the African Miracle" (2009); Jesse Weaver Shipley's "Comedians, Pastors, and the Miraculous Agency of Charisma in Ghana" (2009); Donna Perry's "Fathers, Sons, and the State: Discipline and Punishment in a Wolof Hinterland" (2009); and Blair Rutherford's "Desired Publics, Domestic Government, and Entangled Fears: On the Anthropology of Civil Society, Farm Workers, and White Farmers in Zimbabwe" (2004).
Cultural Anthropology has also published a wide range of essays that examine how indigeneity is configured and accorded status in different locales. See, for example, June Nash's "Consuming Interests: Water, Rum, and Coca-Cola from Ritual Propitiation to Corporate Expropriation in Highland Chiapas" (2007); Kimberly Christen's "Tracking Properness: Repacking Culture in a Remote Australian Town" (2006); Penny Tauylor and Jane Nadel-Klein's "Picturing Aborigines: Photographic Essays on Aboriginal and Islander Australia Today" (1991); and Jean-Paul Dumont's "The Tasaday, Which and Whose?" (1988).
In "Remains: to be Seen. Third Encounter between State and "Customary" in Northern Mozambique" in the May 2010 issue of Cultural Anthropology, Juan Obarrio explores the intersections between the state and the "customary" in Northern Mozambique throughout its history, from colonial rule through socialism, civil war, and postcolonial attempts at democracy. Grounded in a historical analysis of violence and oppression of "customary" powers such as chiefs in previous political regimes, Obarrio develops an ethnographic analysis of how magico-religious rituals combine with post-Socialist political rallies. The contemporary recognition of chieftaincy in Mozambique and the "customary" by the state in Mozambique, supported by international donors, reverses decades of postcolonial ban on indigenous authority and practice. Obarrio's essay illuminates the complex trajectory of indigeneity in postcolonial Africa, where local autochthonous structures and identities are entangled within a history of colonial violence, political oppression and recent harsh conflict.