Working the System offers key insights into the politics of the everyday in twenty-first-century dominant party and neo-authoritarian regimes in Africa and elsewhere. Detailing the many ways ordinary Angolans fashion their relationships with the system-an emic notion of their current political and socioeconomic environment-Jon Schubert explores what it means and how it feels to be part of the contemporary Angolan polity.
Schubert finds that for many ordinary Angolans, the benefits of the post-conflict "New Angola," flush with oil wealth and in the midst of a construction boom, are few. The majority of the inhabitants of the capital, Luanda, struggle to make ends meet and live on under $2.00 per day. The "New Angola" as promoted by the ruling MPLA, Schubert contends, is an essentially urban, upwardly mobile, and aspirational project, premised on the acceptance of the regime's political and economic dominance by its citizens. In the first ethnography of Angola to be published since the end of that country's twenty-seven years of intermittent violent internal conflict in 2002, Schubert traces how Angolans may question and resist the system within an atmosphere of apparent compliance. Working the System will appeal to anthropologists and political scientists, urban sociologists, and scholars of African studies.
A Note on Language, Names, and Money
1. 2002, Year Zero
5. A Culture of Immediatism
6. Against the System, within the System
Glossary and Abbreviations
" Working the System offers a rich and penetrating analysis of contemporary Angola. Steeped in the workings of Luanda's everyday life, Jon Schubert unpacks the complex, dialogic relations between state and society and thus the co-production of hegemony in what he, echoing his informants, calls 'the system.' This is required reading for anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of a petro-state and the cultural repertoires that people develop around them."
--Marissa J. Moorman, author of Intonations " Working the System is extremely well written and reveals a lifetime of engagement with Angolan society as well as a sophisticated sensibility that is fully attuned to some of the most pressing debates in the social sciences. Rarely have I read a book in which understanding and empathy are so fully matched by lucidity and detachment."
--Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, author of Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea