Indo-Mozambican Interactions with the State (1947-1992): Civic and Religious Institutions in Lourenço Marques/Maputo as sites of ethnic identity affirmation and migratory contestation

  • Nafeesah Allen University of the Witwatersrand


Using in-depth ethnographic and archival data, this study argues that over the late 20th century religious and civic institutions in Lourenço Marques/Maputo served as spaces of transnational identity contestation for Mozambican residents of Indian and Pakistani origin (herein referred to as “Indo-Mozambicans”). During this period, Indo-Mozambicans absorbed the aftershocks of four particular geo-political shifts in the Indian Ocean and the Lusophone world: Indian independence from Britain in 1947, the annexation of Portuguese India in 1961, Mozambican independence in 1975, and the Mozambican civil war from 1977 to 1992. This study explores how representative organizations changed their name, membership, and purpose over this period to ensure their institutional survival and to solidify their value as a transnational site of cultural significance. Institutional resilience is contrasted across Indo-Mozambican associations of varying faiths with special attention given to the institution of the Comunidade Hindu (herein referred to as “Comunidade”). In light of forced migration, successive decolonization movements, and fluctuating citizenship rights, the Comunidade’s continued existence today presents a valuable case study in the survival tactics employed by ethno-religious organizations to overcome pervasive vulnerability and to support members through serial insecurity. Individual members’ oral narratives articulate how ethnic sub-identity was defined and divided as political and social shifts in the Indian Ocean and Lusophone worlds collided in the late 20th century. Indo-Mozambican associations served as transnational sites where ethnic identity and migratory agency were cyclically constructed and deconstructed to respond to and cope with federal power structures and local demographics.

Biografia do Autor

Nafeesah Allen, University of the Witwatersrand

Nafeesah Allen is currently a PhD candidate at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She graduated cum laude from Barnard College at Columbia University in 2006 and completed a Masters of International Affairs at Columbia University in 2009. Her specializations included Latin American languages and literature, as well as race and social policy; she was granted an Institute of Latin American Studies fellowship to pursue research on cultural and political representation of Brazil’s African Diaspora in the late 20th century. In 2013, she completed a postgraduate diploma in Folklore & Cultural Studies at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in New Delhi, India. She received IGNOU’s Gold Medal for meritorious academic performance for her ethnographic work on women of the Indian Diaspora. She is a native of Newark, New Jersey, USA.


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Como Citar
Allen, N. (2018). Indo-Mozambican Interactions with the State (1947-1992): Civic and Religious Institutions in Lourenço Marques/Maputo as sites of ethnic identity affirmation and migratory contestation. Remate De Males, 38(1), 186-219.