Maputo: Ethnography of a Divided City


  • Inge Tvedten Chr. Michelsen Institute
  • Fábio Ribeiro
  • João Graça
  • Bjørn Enge Bertelsen Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen



Ethnography, Maputo, Urban, Film


Rapid urbanisation is one of the most dramatic developments on the African continent, often yielding contrasting and shocking images of affluent businesses and residential districts alongside sprawling shantytowns or slums. Urban areas account for an increasing part of the continent’s positive macro-economic development and represent opportunities for employment, education, health, leisure and well-being. However, urban growth is also manifested in emerging conditions of inequality and poverty, rising environmental problems, situations of political instability and riots, as well as persistent high levels of urban crime and violence.

This film project seeks to visualise Maputo: one of Africa’s divided cities. It is part of the research project “The Ethnography of a Divided City. Socio-Politics, Poverty and Gender in Maputo, Mozambique” headed by the Chr. Michelsen Institute and funded by the Norwegian Research Council. While the film relates actively to the research project, it approaches the project’s themes from new and original angles and ANIMA has had full artistic freedom in its filmic approach. A focus on the people inhabiting the city’s so-called bairros (districts/areas) provides a privileged view of the way in which symbolic and material boundaries of various urban spaces are contested, negotiated and, ultimately, inscribed onto mental maps of the city.


Inge Tvedten, Chr. Michelsen Institute, Head of project

Fábio Ribeiro, ANIMA - Estúdio Criativo, Production and photo

João Graça, ANIMA - Estúdio Criativo, Production and photo

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen, Research advisor


Author Biographies

Inge Tvedten, Chr. Michelsen Institute

Inge Tvedten has been Head of Project and Research Advisor. He is an anthropologist/ Researcher 1 at Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Norway, and has worked with applied and basic research on urban and rural poverty and poverty alleviation for more than 35 years, mainly in Southern Africa. He is currently revisiting the contested concept of ‘sub-cultures of urban poverty’ with a focus on Maputo, Oshakati and Luanda.

Fábio Ribeiro

Fábio Ribeiro works for ANIMA and has co-directed, shot and edited the film. He is a documentary filmmaker, and has lived and worked in Mozambique since 2009. Fábio is currently pursuing a Masters in Media and Visual Anthropology at the Freie Universität in Berlin, as part of  ongoing work with marginalized communities in urban African settings on issues of memory, representation and identity building.

João Graça

João Graça works for ANIMA and has also co-directed, shot and edited the film. He is a Mozambican filmmaker, holds a Master’s degree in Multimedia Art from Lisbon Fine Art School, and works as director and editor of documentary films and animation projects. His interests include social development, philosophy and art. João teaches design and film in Mozambique and is committed to develop national film production.

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen

Bjørn Enge Bertelsen has functioned as Research Advisor. He is Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen and does research on state, violence, urban dynamics and sociality in Mozambique. Currently he heads the  research project “Enclaving: Patterns of global futures in three African cities” which compares Accra, Johannesburg and Maputo.

Still image from "Maputo: Ethnography of a Divided City".




How to Cite

Tvedten, I., Ribeiro, F., Graça, J., & Bertelsen, B. E. (2018). Maputo: Ethnography of a Divided City. Journal of Anthropological Films, 2(2), e1571.