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Negotiating Relationships in Transition: War, Famine, and Embodied Accountability in Mozambique

  • Victor Igreja (a1)

Abstract

In conflict-ridden communities, justice specialists gather evidence through verbal accounts and material vestiges of violations committed by repressive regimes and during warfare, to eventually lay legal charges against alleged perpetrators. Anthropologists and sociologists engage with similar contexts but have included conventional bodily rituals, routinized practices, and commemoration practices as sources of knowledge of violent pasts and struggles for historical justice, although without the intention of determining legal accountability. This article shifts from the prevailing focus on repressive regimes and warfare to analyze the famine continuum and expands the procedures for gathering evidence of violations. It shows how, in one Mozambique community, a contingent combination of singular bodily actions, collective imagination and negotiations, and kinship norms evolved and became instrumental in two ways: contested fragments of evidence of violations perpetrated during the experiences of the 1980s famine were refined, and local struggles for accountability conveyed through bodily actions were sustained. The ensuing embodied accountability reshaped relationships by overcoming silence and denial, exposing ordinary perpetrators of violations, and cementing memories of guilt in the landscape. To capture the diversity of legacies of violations marred by fragile evidence, we must be attentive to the versatility of singular bodily actions. We need to consider the multiplicity of meanings, contexts, and perpetrators and how those in conflict zones struggle with embodied accountability.

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Negotiating Relationships in Transition: War, Famine, and Embodied Accountability in Mozambique

  • Victor Igreja (a1)

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