Landscapes of Belonging: Female Ex-Combatants Remembering the Liberation Struggle in Urban Maputo

Citation:

Katto, Jonna. 2014. “Landscapes of Belonging: Female Ex-Combatants Remembering the Liberation Struggle in Urban Maputo.” Journal of Southern African Studies 40 (3): 539–57. doi:10.1080/03057070.2014.909256.

Author: Jonna Katto

Abstract:

Mozambique's liberation struggle was fought mostly on the terrain of the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Tete. Yet, though the rural landscapes of northern Mozambique are intrinsically tied to the country's national history, the public commemoration of the struggle in the present-day context is a state-led narrative more closely linked to the urban experience of the predominantly male political elite. In this article, I explore how female veterans living in the national capital, Maputo, in southern Mozambique, conceptualise national space and belonging, and construct its gendered meanings. Though significant numbers of girls and women were mobilised by the FRELIMO guerrilla army to fight in the struggle, to date little research exists on women's accounts of their experience. This article is based on life-history interviews conducted in Maputo with female war veterans in 2009 and 2011. On the one hand, I show how the abstract space of the nation is made sense of and personalised through the women's experience of the liberation struggle, and further juxtaposed with their current experience of the cityscape. On the other hand, I discuss how the capital city as the spatio-temporal location of the ‘history-telling event’ continues to shape the memory of the liberation struggle, contributing to the enactment of a particular gendered spatiality of belonging.

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women Regions: Africa, Southern Africa Countries: Mozambique

Year: 2014

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