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“Terra de Heróis:” a landscape biography of Mandlakaze (Mozambique)

Researcher: Dr. M. Dores Cruz

My current project incorporates ethnographic, archaeological and ethnohistoric research in Mozambique, primarily in Mandlakaze, focusing on colonial and post-colonial construction of social memory and centering on recording of monuments, ceremonies, survey of sacred sites and landscapes; as well as oral traditions, museum exhibitions and heritage policies.

The region of Mandlakaze plays a central role in the social memory of Mozambique as the last capital of the Gaza-Nguni empire, the locale of the Nguni defeat against the Portuguese colonial armies, a site of resistance, and the birth place of Eduardo Mondlane, the national hero of the liberation struggle. However, local elders present alternative narratives that focus on local royal families, participating in the memorialization of ancestors through their association with sacred sites.

My research explores how local populations, colonial and post-colonial political elites have understood Mandlakaze’s landscapes. The project takes a multidisciplinary, integrative approach to understand cultural and social values of places, sites, and monuments, their appropriation, representation and meaning in distinct cultural contexts.