Understanding Identity & Grassroots Organizations: Responsibility in Maputo, Mozambique

Authors: Beth Oppenheim*, University of Cape Town
Topics: Africa, Development, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Africa, Development Geography, Geographies of Responsibility, Global South
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Chairman's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Development researchers have long believed that developed states use their power to
provide Aid or other forms of external assistance such as private philanthropy, assistance of
Non-Governmental Organisations, and other financing to developing nations to achieve
global economic and political stability. As global discourse shifts to reflect changing political
realities and foreign Aid may become a less dependable source of financing for Development
initiatives, I wish to address how an understanding of moral geographies at a community
level in the urban Global South become a way forward in deepening views of a future
development narrative. This paper will discuss the ways data collected between 2014-2016 in
two communities in Maputo, Mozambique sheds light on dismantling notions of one-
directional motivated assistance and concepts of morality and political engagement from the
Global North. In this paper, I posit that looking at everyday modes of assistance at the urban
community level would challenge scholars to re-think ways in which place matters in the
moral and ethical lens of development. Analysing qualitative data gathered in two
neighbourhoods in Maputo, Mozambique, this study is an investigation of proximity. I argue
that closeness of people in community relationships matters in three ways: (i) the everyday
practices of assistance in these communities are modes of resistance to an oppressive state;
(ii) forms of assistance serve as expressions of local (as opposed to national) identity; and
(iii) religious institutions play a significant role in fostering public discourse, rather than
motivating assistance.

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