Article | Valuation Studies | Valuable Subversions: Gendered Generativity and Sorcerous Production in Central Mozambique

Valuable Subversions: Gendered Generativity and Sorcerous Production in Central Mozambique
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen: University of Bergen, Department of Social Anthropology, Norway
Read article:
Full article (pdf)
How is one to analyze the existence of a subterranean dwarfish couple (zwidoma) occupying the space underneath cooking places and whose central purpose is to reinforce a market woman’s sales—but simultaneously feeding off her very body? Using urban and rural ethnographic material from central Mozambique, where such assemblages comprising the zwidoma and a woman are integral to economic life and social orders, this article contextualizes such constellations—effectively interferences within various domains of value—by undertaking an analysis of gendered modalities of generativity. Further, by meditating on various understandings of cosmology and, ultimately, the dynamics constituting the realms of the real, it presents an alternative to influential analyses of capitalism, such as the notion of “occult economies.” An argument is made not only for value’s dynamic and changeable nature but also for the necessity to appreciate instances of its subversion with destructive effects. The article underlines, therefore, how such subversions of value, in various forms, is in line with Tsing’s (2015) general argument that critical explorations of capitalism and regimes of valuation and production are best undertaken in peri-capitalist zones—such as urban and rural Mozambique.
Value; gender; sorcery; economy; generativity; Mozambique
No. of pages:
Publication type:

Volume 4, Issue: 1, Article 3, 2016

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen
Valuable Subversions: Gendered Generativity and Sorcerous Production in Central Mozambique:

Allina, Eric. 2012. Slavery by Any Other Name: African Life under Company Rule in Colonial Mozambique. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press.

Arnfred, Signe. 2011. Sexuality and Gender Politics in Mozambique: Rethinking Gender in Africa. London: James Currey.

Berger, Iris. 1995. “Fertility as Power: Spirit Mediums, Priestesses and the Pre-Colonial State in Interlacustrine East Africa.” In Revealing Prophets: Prophecy in Eastern African History, edited by David M. Anderson and Douglas H. Johnson, 65–82. London, Nairobi, Kampala, and Athens, GE: James Currey, E.A.E.P., Fountain Publishers, and Ohio University Press.

Bertelsen, Bjørn Enge. 2009a. “Multiple Sovereignties and Summary Justice in Mozambique: A Critique of Some Legal Anthropological Terms.” Social Analysis 53(3): 123–147. DOI: 10.3167/sa.2009.530307

Bertelsen, Bjørn Enge.. 2009b. “Sorcery and Death Squads: Transformations of State, Sovereignty, and Violence in Postcolonial Mozambique.” In Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval, edited by Bruce Kapferer and Bjørn E. Bertelsen, 210–240. New York, NY and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Bertelsen, Bjørn Enge.. 2011. “‘Entering the Red Sands’: The Corporality of Punishment and Imprisonment in Chimoio, Mozambique.” Journal of Southern African Studies 37(3): 611–626. DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2011.597626

Bertelsen, Bjørn Enge.. 2014a. “Maize Mill Sorcery: Cosmologies of Substance, Production and Accumulation Engaged in Central Mozambique.” In Framing Cosmologies: Anthropology and the Imagination of Worlds, edited by Allen Abramson and Martin Holbraad, 199–200. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Bertelsen, Bjørn Enge.. 2014b. “Effervescence and Ephemerality: Popular Urban Uprisings in Mozambique.” Ethnos: 1–28, DOI 10.1080/ 00141844.2014.929596.

Bertelsen, Bjørn Enge.. 2016. Violent Becomings: State Formation, Sociality, and Power in Mozambique. New York, NY: Berghahn Books.
Bhila, Hoyni H. 1982. Trade and Politics in a Shona Kingdom: The Manyika and Their African and Portuguese Neighbours, 1575-1902. Harlow: Longman.

Bonelli, Cristóbal. 2014. “What Pehuenche Blood Does: Hemic Feasting, Intersubjective Participation, and Witchcraft in Southern Chile.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 4(1): 105–127. DOI: 10.14318/hau4.1.004

Bourdillon, Michael. 1987. The Shona Peoples. Gweru, Zimbabwe: Mambo Press.

Bucher, Hubert. 1980. Spirits and Power: An Analysis of Shona Cosmology. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Carsten, Janet. 2004. After Kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Castel-Branco, Carlos Nuno. 2014. “Growth, Capital Accumulation and Economic Porosity in Mozambique: Social Losses, Private Gains.” Review of African Political Economy (41)S1: S26–S48, DOI: 10.1080/03056244.2014.976363.

Castoriadis, Cornelius. 1987 [1975]. The Imaginary Institution of Society. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Castoriadis, Cornelius. 2007 [1999]. Figures of the Thinkable. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Chapman, Rachel R. 2010. Family Secrets: Risking Reproduction in Central Mozambique. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.

Chingono, Mark. 1996. The State, Violence and Development: The Political Economy of War in Mozambique. Aldershot: Avebury.

Chingono, Mark. 2015. “Women, War and Peace in Mozambique: The Case of Manica Province.” African Journal on Conflict Resolution 15(1): 107–130.

Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. 1999. “Occult Economies and the Violence of Abstraction: Notes from the South African Postcolony.” American Ethnologist 26(2): 279–303. DOI: 10.1525/ae.1999.26.2.279

Comaroff, Jean, and John L. Comaroff. 2001. “Millennial Capitalism: First Thoughts on a Second Coming.” In Millennial Capitalism and the Culture of Neoliberalism, edited by John Comaroff and Jean L. Comaroff, 1–56. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. DOI: 10.1215/9780822380184-001

Cunguara, Benedito, and Joseph Hanlon. 2012. “Whose Wealth Is It Anyway? Mozambique’s Outstanding Economic Growth with Worsening Rural Poverty.” Development and Change 43(3): 623–647. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7660.2012.01779.x

Deleuze, Gilles. 2004 [1968]. Difference and Repetition. London and New York,NY: Continuum.

Deleuze, Gilles. 2006 [1977]. “The Actual and the Virtual.” In Dialogues II, edited by Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, 112–115. London and New York, NY: Continuum.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. 1994 [1991]. What Is Philosophy? London and New York, NY: Verso.

Doganova, Liliana, and Fabian Muniesa. 2015. “Capitalization Devices: Business Models and the Renewal of Markets.” In Making Things Valuable, edited by Martin Kornberger, Lise Justesen, Anders Koed Madsen, and Jan Mouritsen, 109–125. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198712282.003.0006

Dumont, Louis. 1970 [1966]. Homo Hierarchicus: An Essay on the Caste System. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Geschiere, Peter. 2013. Witchcraft, Intimacy and Trust. Chicago, IL and London: Chicago University Press. DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226047751.001.0001

Graeber, David. 2001. Toward An Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams. New York, NY and Houndmills: Palgrave. DOI: 10.1057/9780312299064

Green, Maia. 1997. “Witchcraft Suppression Practices and Movements: Public Politics and the Logic of Purification.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 39(2): 319–345. DOI: 10.1017/S0010417500020648

Gudeman, Stephen. 2012. “Vital Energy: The Current of Relations.” Social Analysis 56(1): 57–73. DOI: 10.3167/sa.2012.560105

Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. 2000. Empire. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard University Press.

Harvey, David. 2014. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Helgesson, Claes-Fredrik, and Fabian Muniesa. 2013. “For What It’s Worth: An Introduction to Valuation Studies.” Valuation Studies 1(1): 1–10. DOI: 10.3384/vs.2001-5992.13111

Hobsbawm, Eric, and Terence Ranger. 1992 [1983]. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Huhn, Arianna. 2016. “What is Human? Anthropomorphic Anthropophagy in Northwest Mozambique.” In Cooking Cultures: Convergent Histories of Food and Feeling, edited by Ishita Banarjee-Dube, 177–198. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781316492789.010

Israel, Paolo. 2009. “The War of Lions: Witch-Hunts, Occult Idioms and Post-Socialism in Northern Mozambique.” Journal of Southern African Studies 35(1): 155–174. DOI: 10.1080/03057070802685627

Jacobson-Widding, Anita. 1990. “The Fertility of Incest.” In The Creative Communion: African Folk Models of Fertility and the Regeneration of Life, edited by Anita Jacobson-Widding and Walter van Beek, 47–73. Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology No. 15. Uppsala: Uppsala University.

Jacobson-Widding, Anita. 1999. Chapungu: The Bird That Never Drops A Feather: Male and Female Identities in an African Society. Uppsala: Uppsala University.

Kalofonos, Ippolytos Andreas. 2008. “All I Eat Is ARVs”: Living with HIV/AIDS at The Dawn of the Treatment Era in Central Mozambique. PhD thesis, University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley, CA.

Kapferer, Bruce. 2002. “Outside All Reason: Magic, Sorcery and Epistemology in Anthropology.” Social Analysis 46(3): 1–30. DOI: 10.3167/015597702782409310

Kapferer, Bruce, and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen (eds.) 2009. Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval. New York, NY and Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Kirtsoglou, Elisabeth. 2010. “Introduction: Rhetoric and the Workings of Power—the Social Contract in Crisis.” Social Analysis 54(1): 1–14. DOI: 10.3167/sa.2010.540101

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1955. Tristes tropiques. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Lubkemann, Stephen. 2008. Culture in Chaos: An Anthropology of the Social Condition of War. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Mbembe, Achille. 1992. “Provisional Notes on the Postcolony.” Africa 62(1): 3–37. DOI: 10.2307/1160062

Miller, Danny. 2008. “The Uses of Value.” Geoforum 39: 1122–1132. DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2006.03.009

Miller, Penny. 1979. Myths and Legends of Southern Africa. Indianapolis, IN: T. V. Bulpin.

Mol, Annemarie. 2015. “Who Knows What a Woman is… On the Differences and the Relations between the Sciences.” Medicine, Anthropology, Theory 2(1): 57–75.

Monteiro, Natalina. 2002. The Political Economy of Informal Markets: Restructuring Economies, Gender and Womens Lives in Maputo, Mozambique. PhD thesis, Northern Arizona University, Arizona, AZ.

Moore, Henrietta L., Todd Sanders, and Bwire Kaare (eds.) 1999. Those Who Play with Fire: Gender, Fertility and Transformation in East and Southern Africa. London and New York, NY: Continuum.

Mozambique News Reports and Clippings. 2016. “Survey Shows Inequality Doubled in Six Years.” Mozambique News Reports and Clippings, no. 306, 7 January 2016. _306-4Jan2016_Big-Inequality-Increase_%2B_other-reserarch%20.pdf, accessed 31 August 2016.

Narotzky, Susana, and Niko Besnier. 2014. “Crisis, Value, and Hope: Rethinking the Economy.” Current Anthropology 55(S9): S4–S16. DOI: 10.1086/676327

Niehaus, Isak. 2005. “Witches and Zombies of the South African Lowveld: Discourse, Accusations and Subjective Reality.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 11(2): 191–210. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2005.00232.x

Nordstrom, Carolyn. 1997. A Different Kind of War Story. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Ortiz, Horacio. 2013. “Financial Value: Economic, Moral, Political, Global.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(1): 64–79. DOI: 10.14318/hau3.1.005

Ortiz, Horacio. 2014. “The Limits of Financial Imagination: Free Investors, Efficient Markets, and Crisis.” American Ethnologist 116(1): 38–50. DOI: 10.1111/aman.12071

Otto, Ton, and Rane Willerslev. 2013. “Introduction. Value as Theory: Comparison, Cultural Critique, and Guerilla Ethnographic Theory.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 3(1): 1–20. DOI: 10.14318/hau3.1.002

Paulo, Margarida, Carmeliza Rosário, and Inge Tvedten. 2011. ‘Xiculungo’ Revisited: Assessing the Implications of PARPA II in Maputo 2007-2010. Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute.

Peacock, James, and Hannah McFadden. 2015 [2001]. “Values, Anthropology of.” In International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences. Vol. 2, edited by James D. Wright, Amsterdam: Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-08-097086-8.12161-0.

Pfeiffer, James T. 1997. Desentendimento em Casa: Income, Intrahousehold Resource Allocation, Labor Migration, and Child Growth in Central Mozambique. PhD thesis, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

Pignarre, Philippe, and Isabelle Stengers. 2011. Capitalist Sorcery: Breaking the Spell. New York, NY and Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

Piketty, Thomas. 2015. “Capital, Inequality, and Power.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(1): 517–527. DOI: 10.14318/hau5.1.027

Rennie, John K. 1984. “Ideology and State Formation: Political and Communal Ideologies among the South-Eastern Shona, 1500-1890.” In State formation in Eastern Africa, edited by Ahmed I. Salih, 162–194. Nairobi, London, and Ibadan: Heinemann

Rio, Knut M., and Olaf H. Smedal. 2008. “Totalization and Detotalization: Alternatives to Hierarchy and Individualism.” Anthropological Theory 8(3): 233–254. DOI: 10.1177/1463499608093813

Sahlins, Marshall. 2013. What Kinship Is—and Is Not. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226925134.001.0001

Sassen, Saskia. 2014. Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. DOI: 10.4159/9780674369818

Schuetze, Christy K. 2010. “The World Is Upside Down.” Women’s Participation in Religious Movements in Mozambique. PhD thesis, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.

Sender, John, Carlos Oya, and Christopher Cramer. 2006. “Women Working for Wages: Putting Flesh on the Bones of a Rural Labour Market Survey in Mozambique.” Journal of Southern African Studies 32(2): 313–333. DOI: 10.1080/03057070600656291

Sheldon, Kathleen E. 2002. Pounders of Grain: A History of Women, Work and Politics in Mozambique. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Shipton, Parker. 2014. “Trusting and Transcending.” Current Anthropology 55(S9): S51–S61. DOI: 10.1086/676593

Sumich, Jason. 2010. “Does All That Is Solid Melt Into Air? Questioning ‘Neo-Liberal’ Occult Economies in Mozambique.” Kronos (Bellville) 36(1): 157–173.

Tsing, Anna L. 2015. The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. DOI: 10.1515/9781400873548

Uzendoski, Michael. 2004. “Manioc Beer and Meat: Value, Reproduction and Cosmic Substance among the Napo Runa of the Ecuadorian Amazon.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 10(4): 883–902. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2004.00216.x

Wagner, Roy. 1981 [1975]. The Invention of Culture. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

West, Harry George. 2005. Kupilikula: Governance and the Invisible Realm in Mozambique. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Volume 4, Issue: 1, Article 3, 2016

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen
Valuable Subversions: Gendered Generativity and Sorcerous Production in Central Mozambique:
Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
No citations available at the moment
Export in BibTex, RIS or text