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‘TRAVELLING WHILE SITTING DOWN’: MOBILE PHONES, MOBILITY AND THE COMMUNICATION LANDSCAPE IN INHAMBANE, MOZAMBIQUE

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 July 2012

Abstract

This article examines the ways in which young men in the city of Inhambane, southern Mozambique, harness communication to express and address experiences of constrained physical and social mobility. It starts with an analysis of a highly valued form of oral communication – bater papo – that youth, especially young men, engage in on a daily basis before turning to mobile phone use. Tying these different forms of communication together is a profound desire to claim membership of, and to participate in, a world that remains elusive for most. However, if mobile phone communication builds on pre-existent forms of communication, it takes on particular aesthetic qualities that speak of, rather than resolve, exclusion. The article argues that, while helping bridge distances in significant ways, mobile phone communication nonetheless, and somewhat ironically, also betrays young men's immobility.

Cet article examine comment les hommes jeunes d'Inhambane, ville située dans le Sud du Mozambique, se servent de la communication pour exprimer leurs expériences de mobilité physique et sociale restreinte, et y faire face. Il commence par analyser une forme très prisée de communication orale appelée bater papo que les jeunes, et notamment les hommes, pratiquent au quotidien, avant de se pencher sur l'utilisation du téléphone portable. Ces différentes formes de communication ont en commun un désir profond d'appartenir et de participer à un monde qui demeure inaccessible pour beaucoup. Si la communication téléphonique mobile se nourrit certes des formes de communication préexistantes, elle revêt cependant des qualités esthétiques particulières qui parlent de l'exclusion plutôt que de la résoudre. L'article soutient que la communication téléphonique mobile, même si elle aide à rapprocher de manière significative, trahit néanmoins aussi et assez paradoxalement l'immobilité des hommes jeunes.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 2012

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