Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
The past decade has witnessed the gradual return of authoritarian political systems across the globe. Many of these draw on spectacle and populist mobilization as a means of building relationships between citizenry and state representatives so as to produce practices and discourses of legitimacy. This paper seeks to move beyond the focus on spectacle and performance in many of the studies of authoritarian populism and instead shed light on the everyday quotidian institutions – both formal and informal - through which people are incorporated into and contest authoritarian states. Based on fieldwork in Luanda, Angola, this paper looks particularly at how forms of everyday authoritarian statehood become gendered. It does this by tracking women’s interactions with state institutions and representatives. Focusing on state attempts to impose notions of “urban order” on Angola’s capital, Luanda, through the attempted banning of street trade, this paper shows how control of urban space becomes a means of gendering both power and the processes of its contestation.