Comprehending statebuilding through the roles of traditional healers (nyangas) in post-conflict Mozambique: where healing meets justice

Dantas Palmeira Guimaraes, Samara (2020). Comprehending statebuilding through the roles of traditional healers (nyangas) in post-conflict Mozambique: where healing meets justice. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Recent debates in peace and conflict studies have developed the debate on ‘post-liberal’ peace and ‘hybrid forms of peace’. This debate aims to rethink the liberal rhetoric used by Western governments to justify international interventions and the main components of liberal peacebuilding. This thesis presents a development of the concept of post-liberalism to analyse processes of statebuilding in post-conflict Mozambique. This study argues that liberal peace has depoliticised traditional actors and practices in transition countries, and this depoliticisation of the local is an unintended consequence of the political and normative closure of liberal approaches. In contrast, this thesis acknowledges that traditional healers represent statebuilding emerging from below since healers are subjects of statebuilding performing multiple roles comprising the Mozambican judicial and health system and the political sphere in which spirituality permeates these three areas. By applying hybrid political orders as an analytical framework for examining and exploring statebuilding, this research captures the complexity of statebuilding processes developed by healers in post-conflict Mozambique, challenging neo-Weberian approaches to the state. Whilst this study discusses the three central roles performed by traditional healers throughout the building of the Mozambican state, this research focuses on traditional justice and local governance, considering that Mozambique presents a complex landscape of legal hybrids, reflecting a mixture of different legal orders, including indigenous practices. In this scenario, traditional justice combines healing and justice, underlining the historical importance of traditional healers as traditional actors in the country. Furthermore, it opens up perspectives for the analysis of the power relations in the Mozambican society, on how ‘hybrid forms of statebuilding’ created can lead to the strengthening of the position of local actors. This study captures the complex roles of traditional healers and the ambiguous relationships between healers and the state. I discuss how traditional healers are recognised and institutionalised by the state through national institutions and how healers lie between acceptance and rejection of state structures, critically discussing ‘re-traditionalisation’ in post-conflict Mozambique. By discussing local contexts and local agency, this research aims to contribute to an alternative view of statebuilding processes in post-conflict Mozambique, bridging gaps between statebuilding, peacebuilding and transitional justice literature. This thesis draws upon empirical material gathered through fieldwork in Mozambique from October 2016 to December 2016, in the provinces of Maputo, Inhambane and Sofala.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Government and Society, Department of International Development
Funders: Other
Other Funders: CAPES - Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior - Coordination of Improvement of Higher Level Personnel, University of Birmingham - CAPES Nottingham/Birmingham Scholarship
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JZ International relations


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