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Battleground Bodies

Gender and Sexuality in Mozambican Literature

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Eleanor K. Jones

This is the first book to provide a comparative exploration of the gendered and sexual body in Mozambican literature, engaging with the work of six authors spanning different generations, styles and aesthetics. The study begins by providing a detailed and innovative survey of the dynamics of gender, sexuality and power in the Portuguese colonial and Mozambican post-independence contexts, from the nineteenth century to the turn of the millennium. This initial investigation provides the sociohistorical backdrop for in-depth analyses of representations, uses and subversions of the body in poetry and prose fiction by José Craveirinha, Noémia de Sousa, Lília Momplé, Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa, Paulina Chiziane and Suleiman Cassamo. Using a wide and interdisciplinary range of theoretical frameworks, the book offers a fresh and creative new perspective on Mozambican history, political life and literary output.

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Chapter 1: Boundaries, Borderlands and Bodies: Gender and Sexuality in Mozambique’s Long Twentieth Century

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CHAPTER 1

Boundaries, Borderlands and Bodies: Gender and Sexuality in Mozambique’s Long Twentieth Century

Dos seus milhões de hectares, quantos são ocupados por gentes bravias, que só poderão ser subjugadas em guerras que custariam num dia mais do que as suas terras renderiam num século, ou por criaturas ínfimas que a civilização mal poderá aproveitar para instrumentos rudes de trabalho? Quantos outros são areias estéreis, pântanos que exalam morte, juncais impenetráveis, leitos de oceanos efémeros que o sol depois muda em esbraseadas charnecas, serranias de cabeleira hirsuta em que se dobra o fio dos machados, chão pobre, chão de refugo, chão maldito, que só merece ser explorado quando não houver mais terra inculta no mundo?

[Of its millions of hectares, how many are occupied by defiant peoples, who can only be subjugated via wars that cost more in a single day than their lands could yield in a century, or by worthless creatures that civilization could barely make use of, even as the crudest tools of labour? How many others are infertile wastelands, swamps exhaling death, impenetrable marshlands, ephemeral saltwater beds that the sun dries into charred scrub, rocky outcroppings covered in hirsuit growths that can bend the blade of an axe, poor earth, pitiful earth, that would only be worth exploring were there no more hidden land in the world?]

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