The Pastoral Continuum: The Marginalization of Tradition in East Africa

Hardcover | October 1, 1997

byPaul SpencerAs told byNick Spencer

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Paul Spencer presents the definitive study of the ways of life of the cattle-herding peoples of East Africa, drawing on many years of research. This region has offered a prime example of a traditional culture resisting the inevitability of change; it provides the best-known and most extensiveinstance both of cattle-pastoralist society and of social organization based primarily on age. Pastoral peoples were once dominant in the East African interior, but development of the market economy has progressively polarized the region and forced them into the most marginal, drought-ridden areas;in this ecological trap they have become a peripheral underclass. The Pastoral Continuum examines the richness and resilience of their cultures and illuminates the role of indigenous practices and institutions in adaptation and survival. The pastoralists' systems of age organization in particularare notable for their resilience: it is demonstrated that these are bound up with problems of growth and succession in family enterprises, and that marriage is a critical link in the web of alliance that governs the problematic relations between old and young. Spencer's exploration of the development of the pastoralist phenomenon yields a unique view of its place in the modern world and its prospects for the future. This landmark work by a leading authority will be of lasting value to any reader interested in traditional social systems of thiskind.

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Paul Spencer presents the definitive study of the ways of life of the cattle-herding peoples of East Africa, drawing on many years of research. This region has offered a prime example of a traditional culture resisting the inevitability of change; it provides the best-known and most extensiveinstance both of cattle-pastoralist society ...

Paul Spencer is Professor of African Anthropology at The School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.87 inPublished:October 1, 1997Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198233752

ISBN - 13:9780198233756

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPART I: THE PASTORAL COMMITMENT AND THE LOGIC OF TRADITION1. Pastoralists and the Spirit of Enterprise2. Polygyny and the Manifestations of Inequality3. The Dynamics of Age Systems in East AfricaPART II: THE HISTORICAL CONTINUUM AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PASTORALIST IDEALS4. The Chamus Tradition of Pre-Pastoral Origins5. The Thrust of Pastoral Innovations in Chamus.6. The Emergence of Individualism and New Forms of InequalityPART III: PASTORALISM AND THE THRUST OF CHANGE7. Population Growth, Development, and the Malthusian Dilemma8. Pastoralists and the Threshold of Change9. The Extension of the Continuum and the Spread of the DesertReferences. Index.

Editorial Reviews

The author's statistical analyses provide valuable insights that will be of particular interest to more specialised readers. Spencer's study is neither overly romantic nor unduly pessimistic. He ends on a note of hope for the future of pastoralism as a way of life in eastern Africa./ AneesaKassam, lecturer in anthropology, Durham University, THES, 21/05/99.