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FOR 2757 (2019 - 2023)

Subproject G: Social and Population Geography

Urban Shadow Spaces in the Postcolonial State: Self-organisation of Land and Water Resources in the Periphery of Maputo (Mozambique)

Since 1992, the young post-colonial state of Mozambique has been undergoing a profound political transition process, from a formerly socialist state to a democraticnation-state, which is increasingly taking on neo-patrimonial traits. The influence of unions and cooperatives led by the party Frente da Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) is dwindling and being complemented by the activities of civil society actors, often supported by (international) NGOs. The capital of Maputo with its densely populated peripheral districts plays a crucial role in the socio-political transition process. The peri-urban spaces lead a self-organized shadow existence in many spheres of life, in order to provide the material as well as socio-cultural necessities. They can be thought of as a laboratory in which a catching-up democratic transition is taking place from below and from the social edge, and in which development processes are playing out with customary authorities and (non-)state actors interacting to create a specific form of governance of a postcolonial civil society. An ambivalence is revealed here: on the one hand, there is a lack of willingness and/or ability on the part of the state to provide urban infrastructures and services for all citizens, but on the other hand, this offers vulnerable and marginalized groups options for self-determination and increased autonomy. Therefore the subproject will focus its empirical research on two self-organising collectives in the peri-urban quarters of KaMabukwana and Katembe and enquire into their logic of practice as informal 'service providers' in the areas of water supply and agricultural food production in community gardens. Thus two important forms of practice of resource-based and welfare-oriented urban commons are at stake, which remain constitutive for many African urban life-worlds. Due to their existential practices, these self-organising groups are closely embedded in the social space of their respective barrios and communidades. The overarching research question of this project is twofold: Does self-organisation in the provision of both of these essential services undermine or enhance the authority of state institutions in the provision of public goods/services in the periphery? Does it provide an avenue for the efficient delivery of these services in the long-run? Conceptually, the project is based on the governance and actor-centered institutional approach of the ‘shadow of hierarchy’ and uses the heuristic approach of social entrepreneurship on the level of practice. This concept identifies innovative bottom-up strategies for alleviating social problems such as poverty and exclusion, in which principles of solidarity play a constitutive role.