Citizens of authoritarian, single-party, or post-socialist states rarely demonstrate excessive trust in government. A 2013 study by Mattes and Shenga, however, suggests that Mozambique is different, with a citizenry that appears remarkably deferential and trusting of the state, without displaying the criticism or cynicism which Mozambique’s history would suggest would be common. They argue that Mozambicans instead demonstrate an ‘uncritical citizenship’, which can be partially explained as a function of living in a low-information society. The purpose of this article is to assess Mattes and Shenga’s notion of ‘uncritical’ Mozambican citizenship using qualitative data gathered within rural communities in northern Mozambique. The analysis partially reflects Mattes and Shenga’s conclusions, describing a population overly deferential or resigned towards state power, where an individual’s ability to deliver a complaint or levy criticism appears to be strongly tied to their positionality. However, it finds that their concept of ‘uncritical citizenship’ is problematic, as it ignores the heavy and oppressive paternalism exerted by the Mozambican state in rural communities where it positions its population more as subjects than citizens and often resorts to fear and intimidation to mute dissent.


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pp. 27-53
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