Volume 8, Issue 3
Peoples’ Spaces and State Spaces: Land and Governance in
Peoples’ Spaces and State Spaces examines the ways in which Mozambicans have lost land rights and have been left out of the meaningful decision-making with regard to land management decision-making process. The scenario is a familiar one for Africa. Colonial powers vied for the region and carved it up in ways which did not correspond to customary land tenure regimes. Concessionary companies overwork and brutalize people causing many to flee in order to seek more meaningful employment to pay the high taxes newly imposed upon them. The social consequences of flooding and drought take on new dimensions due to changes in governance which fail to make rural people and their livelihoods a priority. Resettlement schemes and the establishment of wildlife protected areas bring new hardships to rural people. The post-independence government continues many of the practices established during colonial rule, but governance is less transparent and corruption commonplace.
The book is divided into two parts. Part one introduces the reader to the organization of rural space and the specifics of life in several small settlements. Documents from the historical archives of
The book is akin to two monographs bound together: the first section is of interest to historians, anthropologists, and others working on issues of history of trade, migration, and family life. The second, resembling field reports with descriptions of individual buildings and fields is useful to the World Bank and NGO staff. The book hangs together well enough but may not have a wide audience. Graduate students and specialists will find the book useful for its contributions to the study of an African country for which there are few detailed field studies. The value of the book’s contributions may be better appreciated after more details from the years 1975 – 1991 become available. Additional information on land tenure is needed. For example, questions such as where were unconsolidated holdings most common, whether trees could be mortgaged and by whom, the ways in which squatters gained rights over time and how this might have differed by place of origin, ethnicity, gender or other factors might have been addressed. No information is provided on use and management of the marine environment. The duties of various levels of local authority are detailed but how governance is negotiated in rural
The author draws on the work of James C. Scott, Judith Tendler, and Antonio Gramsci to argue that if rural people were able to directly elect district and sub-district level officials they would be put on more equal footing with urban people, but little connection is made between Mozambique and other African countries in terms of placing the country in a broader context of Portuguese holdings, frontline states, or southern Africa more generally. There is also surprisingly little discussion of the literature on space, place, and identity, which would have strengthened the analytical points made in the book.
Heidi Glaesel Frontani