[Thesis]. Manchester, UK: The University of Manchester; 2016.
This thesis explores the roles of gender, sexuality, and the body in the works of
six Mozambican authors: poets JosÃ© Craveirinha (1922-2003) and NoÃ©mia de Sousa (1926-2002),
and prose fiction writers LÃlia MomplÃ© (1935-), Paulina Chiziane (1955-), Ungulani
Ba Ka Khosa (1955-), and Suleiman Cassamo (1962-). Building primarily on the critical
precedents set by Hilary Owen, Phillip Rothwell, and Ana Margarida Martins, the study
aims to make an original contribution to the field of Mozambican cultural studies
by proposing that the gendered body has a unique capacity for reappropriation as a
means of resistance to oppressive power mechanisms, thanks to its consistently central
position in Portuguese imperial and Mozambican postindependence discourses of nationhood.
In addition, the thesis seeks to illustrate the value of intergenerational, inter-gendered,
and inter-aesthetic author comparison, and an eclectic â€˜toolboxâ€™ approach to critical
theory, for the production of innovative new perspectives on Mozambican literary output. Following
the contextual scene-setting laid out in the Introduction, Chapter 1 explores constructs
of masculinity in a selection of poems from JosÃ© Craveirinhaâ€™s first published collection,
Xigubo (1964), and compares them with Paulina Chizianeâ€™s third novel O SÃ©timo Juramento
(2000), using Judith Butlerâ€™s theories of compulsory heterosexuality and gender subversion
(1990 and 1993). While Craveirinhaâ€™s work is posited as a counternarrative to Portuguese
imperial emasculation of the black male subject that ultimately reproduces colonial
gender structures, Chizianeâ€™s novel is shown to engage with strategies of parody and
realism in order to challenge such reproductions. Chapter 2 makes use of the concept
of â€˜disidentification,â€™ developed in the late twentieth century by U.S. feminists
and queer theorists of colour, to compare selected poems from NoÃ©mia de Sousaâ€™s Sangue
Negro (1948-51) with prose fiction by Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa (1987 and 1990). Despite
the authorsâ€™ aesthetic dissimilarities, their work is shown to share a successful
commitment to the rejection of imposed femininities. Whereas de Sousa articulates
this refusal via a ludic use of language, Khosa roots his narratives of disidentification
in grotesque gendered corporealities. Chapter 3 compares novellas and short stories
by LÃlia MomplÃ© (1988, 1995, and 1997) and Suleiman Cassamo (1989 and 2000), examining
the authorsâ€™ uses of the (dis)embodied states of suicidality, hunger, and ghostliness.
Making use of Achille Mbembeâ€™s (2001 and 2003) postcolonial reworkings of Michel Foucaultâ€™s
concept of biopolitics (1976), this final chapter seeks to understand the ways in
which the authors exploit imperial and postindependence instrumentalisations of the
Mozambican body as a means of reasserting subjectivity and selfhood in the face of
massification. Throughout the study, emphasis is placed on the often concealed and
latent nature of gendered resistance, which remains a persistent feature of Mozambican
literary output despite the relative intransigence of sexual politics in the country.
By centring the body in their aesthetically diverse works, writers from Mozambique
demonstrate the value of gendered resistance not only as an end in itself, but also
as a means of accessing wider subversive discourses and gestures.