Decolonizing Civil Society in Mozambique

Professor Tanja Kleibl


An examination of the hegemonic nature of civil society, in order to conceptually confront global power differences that impact marginalized people living in or coming from former colonies or the ‘Global South’.
Decolonizing Civil Society in Mozambique: Why, How and For What? emphasizes the conceptual differences and exclusionary discourses framing the arguments for supporting Western-type NGOs in the development discourse, and for excluding local social actors (such as spiritual and traditional leaders) from an active role in social change.

It is argued that Western conceptions of civil society provide the main guidance for interpreting internationally recognized civil society in the Global South and that these concepts need to be critically deconstructed and scrutinized; binary oppositions be uncovered; and, silenced conceptual meanings be investigated and articulated, in order to balance global power relationships in the academic discourse and development practices.

Kleibl is particularly concerned with the dissection of the current mainstream civil society concept whilst identifying social action and processes that are often based on religious and traditional structures and spiritual discourses. The author attempts to outline new conceptual fragments of an alternative local civil society concept; fresh theoretical issues and questions; as well as empirical experiences, and concludes with policy and practice arguments for rethinking and decolonizing civil society in the Global South.

Author Bio

Tanja Kleibl is currently Professor for Social Work, Migration and Diversity at the University of Applied Sciences Würzburg-Schweinfurt in Germany and Research Associate at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. She has finalized her PhD at Dublin City University Ireland in the area of political sociology in 2016 and authored more than 20 articles on various topics related to civil society and social movements, international development and social transformation as well as postcolonial social work. Since 1999, Tanja has worked for various local and international NGOs and government agencies in Africa and beyond. She brings together more than 15 years extensive practice experiences in development cooperation with a focus on Sub-Sahara Africa. Her particular emphasis is on social development and civil society in the Global South, whilst applying a political economy lens when it comes to inquiring differences and contestations in the Global North.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Civil Society – a Functional or Transformative Concept?
  • Part I: Interrogating Civil Society in the Development Discourse
  • Part II: Civil Society in Mozambique
  • Part III: Governance and Civil Society in Mozambique
  • Part IV: Civil Society in the Context of Economic Disorder and Political Conflict
  • Conclusion: Identifying and Pushing the Post-colonial Boundaries


Publication Date: 23 September 2021
328 pages

Product ISBNs: Hardback: 9781786999344
eBook ePub: 9781786999313
eBook Kindle: 9781786999320

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