THE POLITICS OF PRECARITY AND GLOBAL CAPITALIST EXPANSION: THE CASE OF MINING, DISPOSSESSION AND SUFFERING IN TETE, MOZAMBIQUE

UoM administered thesis: Phd

  • Authors:
  • Gediminas Lesutis

Abstract

This thesis asks how neoliberal enclavisation produces precarity. It focuses on eight months of fieldwork on large-scale dispossession of rural and peri-urban populations caused by the coal mining enclave in Tete, Mozambique, and my interpretation of Judith Butler's work on precarity, Henri Lefebvre's conceptualisation of the production of capitalist social space and Jacque Ranciere's understanding of politics. Bringing theory and empirical research together, I construct an original theoretical approach to explore how precarity as a condition of life, as well as the (im)possibility of politics, is constituted by contemporary capitalist expansion in Mozambique. I explore how precarity is produced through the interplay of structural, symbolic and direct violence of contemporary capitalist expansion, such as the coal mining enclave and resettlement sites inhabited by the dispossessed populations, in Tete. These processes of precarisation, I argue, result in the non-politics of abandonment that, whilst enabling life to be lived on precarious terms at the margins of the neoliberal mining enclave, does not openly challenge and only unwillingly reinforces the socio-material order of the neoliberal enclave. I demonstrate how this dynamic reconstitutes the precarity created by the violence of the neoliberal enclave and overshadows possibly different and progressively anti-neoliberal imaginaries of life and space in Tete. I conclude that these dynamics of precarity disactivate the possibility of transformative politics, and thus sustain and stabilise global capitalist expansion in Tete, and Mozambique more broadly. This reading of precarity makes several contributions to the literatures on the politics of precarity. It explores the condition of precarity outside the usual empirical and analytical focus of labour relations in the Global North, as well as developing a spatial reading of precarity. The thesis also challenges these, as well as broader literatures on agency in the context of structural inequalities and opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, for overestimating possibilities of resistance in situations characterised by extreme precarity. Finally, the thesis contributes to the literature on contemporary neoliberal capitalist expansion in Sub-Saharan Africa by demonstrating how neoliberal enclaves result in human suffering outside of their own exclusionary spaces of accumulation.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
Award date31 Dec 2018