Of hippopotami and mad women: Cosmopolitanism debated in Paulina Chiziane’s João, o hipopótamo

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This article focuses on the short story ‘João, o hipopótamo’ [‘John, the hippopotamus’] (2012: 71–76) by Mozambican author Paulina Chiziane, which places the narration in Nampula thus invoking the realities of a predominantly Makua cultural group and the co-existence of different versions of Islam and matriliny. The main argument of this article is that by discussing gender identities and relations and invoking practices of legal pluralism observed in a context specifically located outside Maputo, the author unveils the problematic inherent in the construction of a national narrative as a cosmopolitan one built from above, which neglects to give equal value to different cultures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443–468
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Romance Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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