Portfolio: Xilunguine by Paul Castro

Xilunguine

Paul Castro

This project arose as a way to think about the photographic archive of Mozambique’s Ricardo Rangel (1924–2009), the doyen of photojournalism in the country. Born in colonial Lourenço Marques, the city now known as Maputo, Rangel’s lifework contributes decisively to our image bank of everyday life under authoritarian Portuguese rule, a complex time full of knotty contradictions alongside clear exploitation and suffering. In colonial times, one name for Maputo’s Portuguese-dominated centre was Xilunguine, roughly glossed in English as “The White Man’s Place.” Walking the streets of Maputo as it stands today—no longer dominated by Europeans demographically, yet still a space of alienation for some—and reflecting on issues of social space and mobility, I found a location that has changed radically in order to stay in many ways exactly the same. Aspects I knew from Rangel’s work recurred incessantly: the eccentric cosmopolitanism of this Indian Ocean country, the dynamism of a burgeoning city divided physically and psychologically between the haves and the have-nots. After more than four hundred years of Portuguese presence, the decades since independence in 1975 have seen Mozambique catapulted from one-party African socialism at the end of the Cold War into a breakneck market economy that is democratic but dysfunctional. Mozambique has stood at the crossroads of Europe, Africa, and Asia since the 1500s, so it is perhaps natural that so many of the issues we face today meet on the streets of its capital.

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Current Issue, Vol. 45, no. 5

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Xilunguine by Paul Castro

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