REPLAY <br>Approaches to peace and the (re)production of violence in Mozambique

Approaches to peace and the (re)production of violence in Mozambique

January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2023
24 months

Mozambique was long considered one of the few “success stories” in Africa, in both the academic and the policymaking worlds, following the end of its 16-year civil war involving Frelimo and Renamo. The label was earned largely due to its peace process – in particular its 1992 peace agreement, preceded by international mediation and followed by a UN peacekeeping mission – and the country’s political and economic transition thereafter. Supported and funded by the international community, and garnering significant academic attention, Mozambique’s trajectory from a war-torn society to one holding democratic elections and achieving extraordinary economic growth granted the country a special status amongst donors and academics alike. Some voiced concerns, in particular regarding Frelimo’s hegemonic rule and a lack of broad-based development, but these remained on the margins, relegated to the category of fixable problems. The renewal of armed hostilities between the two former belligerent parties in 2013 – some 20 years after the peace agreement – challenged the purported success of the settlement. Recent scholarship on peace and conflict has revealed problems with the approach that emerged in the 1990s and of which Mozambique was a leading example. A binary opposition between war and peace has given way to a more nuanced understanding of continuities between wartime and peacetime. The centrality of power-sharing agreements reflecting formal pacts between political elites has been questioned, with a new focus on the need to empower and mobilise local actors and resources. Moreover, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism approaches, geared towards imposing military victory, have been criticised, at best, as insufficient and, worse, as counterproductive. And yet, Mozambique’s most recent peace process since 2013 (with the agreement signed in August of 2019) and the government’s approach to Islamic militancy in the North, appear to be out of sync with these recent findings, reproducing aspects of frameworks and practices that have reinforced structural and direct violence, as opposed to a comprehensive, multidimensional and empowering peace process. By contrasting new developments and innovative insights in scholarly and policyoriented discourses in this field with Mozambique’s recent peace process and its continuing strategy to fight Islamic fundamentalism, this project addresses the following research question: what understandings of violence and peace, and which actors and interests, are shaping Mozambique’s policies, and with what implications for the country’s future?

peace and conflict studies, relapsing violence, terrorism, peace processes
Funding Entity
Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology