Literacy, Power, And Democracy In Mozambique: The Governance Of Learning From Colonization To The Present

1st Edition

Judith Marshall

Published June 7, 2019
Reference - 336 Pages
ISBN 9780367016081 - CAT# K404327

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To pose questions about literacy is to pose questions about power and voice and whose experiences and language are validated in text. Whatever the dimensions of human liberation attached to literacy, literacy is also about governance and being governed. It is never just a question of reading and writing but also a question of the complex interplay of language meanings and practices, based as much on class, race, and gender as on grammar and syntax. This critical, ethnographic study explores how women and men in a Mozambican factory in the mid-1980s made sense of literacy and the different ways they used it in their daily lives. The study explores the meanings factory workers brought to the literacy classroom of schooling and language, and what validity they attached to their own knowledge and to themselves as learners. These meanings were shaped by a history of Portuguese colonial domination in which education-and mastery of the Portuguese language—signalled the path from “savagery†and “indigenous†status to “civilization†and “assimilation†as Portuguese citizens. The meanings shifted dramatically at independence when the Frelimo government, which had won power through a decade of armed struggle, put Mozambique on a socialist development path. “People’s power†in Mozambique included a commitment to mass literacy programs. The study probes the tensions between literacy as a tool for more active workers’ voices and more grassroots democracy versus literacy as a tool for mobilizing at the base for top-down initiatives. Linking micro- and macrolevels of analysis, the author examines the differentiated and changing meanings of literacy through an intense process of social change. The originality of the study lies in its ability to move from the intimacy of workers’ lives in the microworld of the factory literacy classroom to the broadest questions of civil society, socialist construction, and participatory democracy.

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