Predatory security: Reshaping the city and the state in Mozambique
Notions and practices of security colonise both state and urban contexts across Africa. Arguably, these notions and practices are also integral to wider global political formations where urban formations in Africa are often cast as pre-figuring the shape of future global cities more generally. Based on fieldworks in the Mozambican cities of Maputo and Chimoio, this paper sees security there as related to violent crime and capital accumulation in ways that undermine policy-oriented representations of security provision as solely undertaken by state police supplemented by neoliberal assemblages of security firms. Rather, and more specifically, the paper shows how security is not only subjected to a spatialized logic of race and social control but also renders violence – in all its forms – central to its exercise and cosmologies. This point will be emphasised by analysing how various forms of policing must be understood beyond the security-development nexus. These forms of policing increasingly involve a gradual emergence of what I call ‘predatory security’ that is central to violent modes of capital accumulation that shape African urban landscapes as well as define the contours of the state. The paper suggests that as a configuration of accumulative violence such predatory security has consequences for how we should approach calls for rights to the city as well as the state in urban African orders and beyond.
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, associate professor, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, has researched issues such as state formation, violence, poverty and rural-urban connections in Mozambique since 1998. Bertelsen has published extensively internationally and is publishing the monograph Violent Becomings: State Formation, Culture and Power in Mozambique (Berghahn Books, 2016) and has co-edited the anthologies Crisis of the State: War and Social Upheaval (with Bruce Kapferer, Berghahn Books,  2012) and Navigating Colonial Orders: Norwegian Entrepreneurship in Africa and Oceania, ca. 1850 to 1950 (with Kirsten Alsaker Kjerland, Berghahn Books, 2015).