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PASSAGEWAYS OF COOPERATION: MUTUALITY IN POST-SOCIALIST TANZANIA

  • Daivi Rodima-Taylor

Abstract

The paper enquires into the practices of cooperation and mutuality that are reproduced in contemporary mutual help groups of post-socialist Tanzania. Diverse associations of cooperative work and mutual security are on the rise in globalizing African communities. Local institutions of mutual assistance are becoming increasingly important in regulating access to resources and redefining socialities in environments of persistent instability. Mutual help groups among Kuria people have emerged as institutions for facilitating exchange through relationally oriented expansion that enables the rise of new economic niches and social identities. A complex intermingling of diverse organizational features has enabled the associations to engage novel types of resources and categories of participants. The paper examines hybrid and haphazard elements of formalization that occur with the regularizing of work reciprocities and the increasing use of monetary loans and savings. Exploring culturally relevant metaphors of life-sustaining flows and passageways, indispensable for individual and social growth, the article investigates the value conversions mediated by the groups and their impacts on wider public spaces in Tanzanian communities.

L'article s'intéresse aux pratiques de coopération et de mutualité qui sont reproduites dans les groupes contemporains d'entraide en Tanzanie post-socialiste. Diverses associations de travail coopératif et de sécurité mutuelle se développent au sein des communautés africaines en contexte de mondialisation. Les institutions locales d'assistance mutuelle prennent de plus en plus d'importance dans la régulation de l'accès aux ressources et la redéfinition des socialités dans des contextes d'instabilité persistante. Chez les Kuria, les groupes d'entraide sont devenus des institutions de facilitation de l’échange à travers une expansion orientée vers le relationnel qui favorise l'essor de nouvelles niches économiques et identités sociales. Un entremêlement complexe de caractéristiques organisationnelles diverses a permis aux associations de mobiliser de nouveaux types de ressources et catégories de participants. L'article examine les éléments hybrides et désordonnés de formalisation qui surviennent avec la régularisation des réciprocités du travail et l'utilisation croissante du prêt monétaire et de l’épargne. En explorant les métaphores culturellement pertinentes de flux et passages vitaux, indispensables au développement individuel et social, l'article examine les conversions de valeur médiées par les groupes et leur impact sur les espaces publics au sens large au sein des communautés tanzaniennes.

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