“Radical Bricoleurs”: On Doing Science, Community Life, Activism and Bureaucracy in Mozambique

By Anselmo Matusse, University of Cape Town

One day I was walking with Mr. Angelo, 69 years old, a former Renamo soldier, demobilized in 1994, who is now a farmer and a hunter towards his rice farm in Nvava, which is located in the lands of former colonial tea plantations called Cha Tacuane in Nvava, Lugela district, Zambezia Province, Northern Mozambique. As we walk he tells me that this tea you see here (pointing at a tea plant) was planted in the colonial period; I used to work in this company. When I look around I can see that the land was once used for monocrops, but currently colonial tea plants as wells the local plants co-exist, constituting the present landscapes as both places of memory and engendering new knowledges. The picture I began to paint is one in which the debris of colonial, socialist, civil war, and present neoliberal endeavors are the building blocks from which the foundations of a deep present and visions of the future are built. This realization prompted me to consider “radical bricolage”[1] as a means of understanding these intersections of conservation, development and community life, taking into account the amalgamation of present, past, and visions of the future in Mozambique. The concept draws together Claude Levi-Strauss’s (1966) thinking about the “bricoleur” and Achille Mbembe’s notion of “radical uncertainty” (2011, 2017), to which I return below.

Read more on Engagement, where this article was originally published.“Radical Bricoleurs”: On Doing Science, Community Life, Activism and Bureaucracy in Mozambique

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