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  • 2019howellphd

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'It was the money that burned the house': ethnography, moral economies and agricultural interventions in Northern Mozambique

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Publication date2019
Number of pages232
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This research is based on 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in northern Mozambique in 2015-16. It draws particularly on the 12 months I spent living with a peasant family in a rural neighbourhood, ‘Bairro’. My research focuses on the activities and members of a smallholder producers’ association who, during this period, regularly received the representatives and interventions of six different agricultural commercialisation projects, including a pilot project for the controversial ProSAVANA programme.
The thesis explores the contours of everyday life as a smallholder farmer in Bairro, and the ways in which development projects interacted with this everyday landscape, focusing on the key themes of moral economy, food security and land. It considers the workings of power and agency in these interactions and the ways in which they were embodied. It also draws on postcolonial, feminist and critical race scholarship to analyse the research project itself as an auto-ethnographic insight into these dynamics. These readings of everyday life in Bairro draw attention to the complexity and ambivalence of local people’s relationship with development and commercialisation, their agency and vulnerability in constructing livelihoods within a deeply unequal and unpredictable context, and the potential (and actual) complicity of research in reinscribing colonial power relations and subjectivities, with material consequences.