Whose “Tempo de Fome”? Provisioning Maputo City and the Socialist Experiment in Independent Mozambique, 1975–90s

Friday, January 8, 2016: 10:30 AM
Room A707 (Atlanta Marriott Marquis)
Lilly Anne Havstad, Boston University
This paper presents ongoing dissertation research on changing food ways in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique. Formerly known as Lourenço Marques until independence from Portugal in 1975, Maputo is a young city. It became a town in 1876, a city in 1887, and the capital of the Portuguese colony in 1898. With its port and rail system connecting South African mines to historic Indian Ocean trade networks, early twentieth-century Maputo hosted a small but growing population of mixed African, European, Indian, and Asian backgrounds. Today, the city of roughly 1.5 million inhabitants continues to attract local, regional, and international immigration. Strong linkages to suburban and rural hinterlands where urban dwellers have maintained familial and agricultural ties have also shaped this cosmopolitan African metropolis. These linkages have shifted across generations, reflecting the city’s pattern of rapid growth, punctuated by economic depression, war, food shortage, and environmental disaster. Food, as a fundamental organizing principle in human-dwellings, provides a dynamic lens for exploring these linkages as well as other patterns of urbanization, social hierarchy and mobility, assimilation, and cultural exchange. Such patterns have been largely overlooked by scholars of urban Mozambique, whose work has focused on the racist ideologies that underpinned colonial systems of labor, citizenship, and official assimilation policy. In looking at dynamics of social and spatial movements that have shaped the city’s foodscapes over time, this research seeks to trace patterns of upward social mobility, with particular interest in the role of women as the primary cooks, homemakers, and caretakers in Mozambican society, past and present. Sources for this study include colonial and postcolonial municipal and state records, urban based newspapers and journals, recipes and cookbooks, oral testimony from Maputo residents, maps, foodmaps, ethnographic insights in homes, kitchens, restaurants and other eateries, and daily interactions with street and market vendors.
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