The Manjaco facing uncertainty: At the crossroads of local and universal knowledge


Paulina Mendes

Research Area:


In my PhD project I analyse the entanglement of local and universal knowledge as they are reflected in the thought and behaviour of the Manjaco, mainly with regard to the problem of conflict resolution. I am particularly looking into the practice of mandji which not only Manjaco, but also members of other Bissau-Guinean ethnic groups (although in a different manner), resort to. It is also analysed how this practice finds its way into the state apparatus and how it wields influence there. I refer to this phenomenon as ‘mandjization’.

It should be highlighted that while the local knowledge plays an important role in the socio-cultural interaction of members of the Manjaco ethnic group, the universal knowledge is not absent – a situation that allows for the entanglement of the two forms of knowledge, sometimes causing situations of uncertainty.

For realising this research I selected two villages: Bachil in the Sector of Cacheu and Utia Côr in the Sector of Canchungo. The considerable dissimilarity of these villages helps to better elucidate the aims of my research; Bachil is characterized by a multi-ethnic social structure without the political institution of the chief (régulo), while Utia Côr is mono-ethnic and disposes of the political institution of the régulo.