“Development”, “Sovereignty”, and “Slaves”: Extractive Enchantment in Mozambique. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion

In this talk, anthropologist Anselmo Matusse introduces how the Mozambican state establishes extractivism in the country and its pernicious effects on people and landscapes on the ground.

A landscape photograph portraying hills and forests. In the distance clouds are gathering.

This photograph that Anselmo Matusse took in 2017, from the mid-way to the top of Mount Mabo in Nvava, shows the landscape in Limbue, Namadoe, and beyond and the vast area that Mozambique Holdings Limited explored for rubber plantation.

This talk draws on 14-months fieldwork in Lugela district, Zambézia province, with four communities living around a recently established large-scale rubber plantation and seeks to understand the Mozambican state’s strategies to enlist different actors into assemblages of extraction to attain development and sovereignty and their contradicting effects.

This talk asks is adapted from a contribution to an edited volume, “Contested Ecologies II: Africa’s Struggles with Neoliberal Environmentalism,” and asks: How to understand the non-violent strategies that the state and corporations use to exert extractivism? What makes rural residents accept extractive projects and “give away” their landscapes, time, and bodies to such projects? And what lessons could we draw if we allow ourselves to bear witness to residents’ struggles and the language they employ to make sense of the damages that extractive projects and the state cause?

The talk calls enchantment the state’s strong belief or faith in extraction to achieve development, rural transformation, wealth generation, and sovereignty in Mozambique to the point of ignoring its pernicious effects on people and landscapes and, worse, bending or breaking its laws to make way for extraction. That enchantment coalesces the state and private actors’ approaches, making them a force to reckon with on the ground. The talk will focus on that enchantment the state employs to bring people, institutions, rural residents, landscapes, and minerals into local and transnational assemblages of extraction. Finally, the talk will highlight residents’ “unfiltered” voices to make the audience bear witness to the truth and experiences of such assemblages and understand the language residents use to contest capture.

About the presenter

Anselmo Matusse is an anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language Teaching and Anthropology from Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique, and a master’s degree in Environmental Science based at TEMA at  Linköping University, Sweden. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Anthropology within the Environmental Humanities South (EHS) research cluster at the University of Cape Town. He is currently doing the second year of his master’s degree in Digital Humanities at Linnaeus University. Through the ontologies of Mount Mabo communities, Anselmo’s Ph.D. thesis sought to reinvigorate ways of thinking about how to practice science, justice, development, and conservation towards socio-natural well-being in Mozambique. His research interests include forest management, indigenous knowledges, public space,  the water-food-energy nexus, digital humanities, and African art.

Send him an e-mail.

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.

Tags: Environmental Humanities, IKOS, HF, Anthropology
Published Jan. 12, 2022 6:01 PM - Last modified Apr. 21, 2022 11:03 AM