Accepted paper:

Resettlement and the production of surplus populations in Mozambique


Nikkie Wiegink (Utrecht University)
Angela Kronenburg García (UCLouvain)

Paper short abstract:

In Mozambique, surplus populations are produced through involuntary resettlement following mega projects (mining, agriculture, conservation). We discuss how government discourse, corporate rhetoric, and community consultation meetings legitimate this as an opportunity for (sustainable) development.

Paper long abstract:

Mozambique's economy is increasingly geared toward the extractive industry and large scale plantation agriculture. One of the direct consequences of this is the displacement of rural people from their homes and lands, a process referred to as involuntary resettlement. Drawing on the work of Tania Li (2010), we regard resettlement as one of the key ways in which surplus populations are produced in Mozambique, as (often) rural and already vulnerable people lose access to their lands, while being relocated to marginal or already-crowded 'alternative lands' without being substantially incorporated into the job markets that these mega projects (such as mining, agriculture, conservation) create. Based on our ethnographic research in different parts of the country, across several sectors, and at different project stages, we provide comparative insight into how surplus populations are produced through resettlement processes in the context of mega projects in Mozambique. Subsequently we show how resettlement is continuously framed and thereby legitimated in government discourse, corporate rhetoric, and community consultation meetings as an opportunity for (sustainable) development and as a concern of national interest.

panel Soc02
New surplus populations in Africa: ruptures and continuities in rural transitions