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Violent Becomings: State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique

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Volume 4

Ethnography, Theory, Experiment

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Violent Becomings

State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

360 pages, 4 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-236-4 $110.00/£78.00 Hb Published (August 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78533-293-7 $29.95/£21.00 Pb Published (August 2016)

Hb Pb   Recommend to your Library


“This is a valuable contribution to the literatures on African political history at both the macro and micro scales… It represents what many Africanist anthropologists today hope to achieve – a monograph that is both ethnographically rich and theoretically engaged.” · Danny Hoffman, University of Washington

Violent Becomings carries us into the fascinating interfaces between Mozambican sovereignty, power, economy and culture, in ways that will have implications for many other accounts of postcolonial statehood.” · James D. Sidaway, National University of Singapore


Violent Becomings conceptualizes the Mozambican state not as the bureaucratically ordered polity of the nation-state, but as a continuously emergent and violently challenged mode of ordering. In doing so, this book addresses the question of why colonial and postcolonial state formation has involved violent articulations with so-called ‘traditional’ forms of sociality. The scope and dynamic nature of such violent becomings is explored through an array of contexts that include colonial regimes of forced labor and pacification, liberation war struggles and civil war, the social engineering of the post-independence state, and the popular appropriation of sovereign violence in riots and lynchings.

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen is Associate Professor at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen and has undertaken anthropological research in Mozambique since 1998.

Subject: General Anthropology Peace & Conflict Studies Colonialism
Area: Africa

Violent Becomings: State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique by Bjørn Enge Bertelsen is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0).

This edition is supported by the University of Bergen. Full text.

OA ISBN: 978-1-78533-429-0


List of Illustrations, Figures, and Maps
Note on Anonymity and Fieldwork
A Note on Language
List of Abbreviations and Acronyms
List of Key Historical and Contemporary Persons


Chapter 1. Violence. War, State, and Anthropology in Mozambique
Chapter 2.
Territory. Spatio-Historical Approaches to State Formation
Chapter 3.
Spirit. Chiefly Authority, Soil, and Medium
Chapter 4.
Body. Illness, Memory, and the Dynamics of Healing
Chapter 5.
Sovereignty. The Mozambican President and the Ordering of Sorcery
Chapter 6.
Economy. Substance, Production, and Accumulation
Chapter 7.
Law. Political Authority and Multiple Sovereignties

Conclusion: Uncapturability, Dynamics, and Power


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