The Making of Authority in Plural Legal Systems
The case of the community courts in the city of Maputo, Mozambique
Presentation by Fabio Provenzano (University of Copenhagen, Centre of African Studies)
Location: Engelska Parken 3-2028
Since the early 1990s, Mozambique has been experimenting with a transition from a socialist to a capitalist system, a process common in many other African countries. This has involved various political reforms affecting, among other spheres, its juridical system. Such changes galvanised the emergence of local institutions settling disputes in both rural and urban areas. Among the most popular of these institutions in the capital is the 'community court', which are used for solving cases that state institutions do not have the capacity to address, like witchcraft accusations and spiritual curses. As such, these courts stand for forms of ordering that are parallel to the Mozambican state and they are especially present in economically deprived neighbourhoods unsatisfied with the many governments represented by the political party FRELIMO. Although these courts have been thriving, FRELIMO’s influence on these areas is unshakable.
This presentation analyses the ways in which multiple authorities in the plural legal system of urban Mozambique are constructed and legitimized, using community courts as a study case. These courts are approached in the presentation as hybrid legal spaces mirroring the Mozambican plural system, which is understood as a composition of different forms of knowledges and authorities. The presentation is drawn from fieldwork conducted in Maputo, Mozambique, from August 2015 to April 2016, including interviews and six months of participant observation inside two community courts