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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:State policing and invisible forces in Mozambique
Author:Kyed, Helene MariaISNI
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Mozambique
legal pluralism
Abstract:This article explores how the State police in Mozambique tried to (re)encroach upon a former war zone and what its methods implied for State authority more generally. Post-war reform efforts to professionalize the police in accordance with the rule of law and human rights have had apparently paradoxical results. This is in part because efforts to constitute State authority have relied on both embracing and taming 'tradition' as an alternative domain of authority, order and law. Ethnographic fieldwork at police stations shows that the police increasingly handle witchcraft cases and spiritual problems. This, the article argues, does not only reflect a tension between local/customary and State/legal notions of order and justice. Equally significant is the existence of partial sovereignties. A spiritual idiom of power and evildoing constitutes an alternative articulation of sovereignty due to the capacity of invisible forces to give and take life. This is an idiom mastered by chiefs and healers. Police officers engage with invisible forces to gain popular legitimacy and manifest state power, and yet they never manage to fully master those forces. Consequently, State police authority remains uncertain, and must be continually reinforced by enacting hierarchies and jurisdictional boundaries and by using force. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]