Being cool or being good: researching mobile phones in Mozambique


  • Julie Soleil Archambault SOAS



Drawing on my fieldwork experience in Inhambane, southern Mozambique, where I conducted research on mobile phone use amongst youth, my paper tackles issues of acceptance and rejection. As I sought to gain acceptance amongst youth I found myself participating in various controversial and, at times, dangerous activities that made me the victim of intense gossip and outright rejection by some. The fact that I came to the field accompanied by my husband and daughter only made matters worse. In this paper, I present the challenges of “being cool”, while also “being good”, and the repercussions of my research choices on my social standing. I then discuss how, instead of compromising my research, this predicament had a positive outcome by revealing social dynamics that might otherwise have remained hidden, namely the importance of concealment and the ambiguous role mobile phones play in deceit.

Author Biography

Julie Soleil Archambault, SOAS

Julie Soleil Archambault is currently writing her PhD thesis at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London) on mobile phone practices and secrecy amongst youth in southern Mozambique. Her research interests include youth, communication, social navigation, desire, secrecy and the circulation of goods. She can be contacted at jsa(AT)