Paolo Israel interviewing Simon Nshusha, Matambalane, 2014 picture by Fidel Mbalale/courtesy of Paolo Israel

A conversation with Paolo Israel around war and violence in Mozambique, especially the insurgency that is currently raging in Cabo Delgado province. In this conversation we looked critically at Harry West’s take on witchcraft, the limitations of Marxist and post-Marxist views of the insurgency, the ethical conundrums of using data distributed via social media without consent, and the challenges of the double lack of access to a field that has been closed by war and a pandemic.

Paolo is an anthropologist and historian, currently a senior lecturer at the University of Western Cape. He holds a PhD from the École des hautes études en sciences sociales, in Paris, focusing on Makonde masquerades in northern Mozambique. At present he is working on two projects. The first is a nonfiction book titled The Magical Lions of Muidumbe, in which he blends interviews, life stories, descriptions of dance and anecdotes to provide a panoramic view of a witch-hunt and also society in Muidumbe, where it occurred. The second project is a history of the 1960 Mueda massacre, for which he has studied Portuguese intelligence documents and interviewed several actor