In this lesson, we will discuss some of the characteristics of ancient West Africa. In this unit you are going to learn about politics and political organisation. There are, however, still many authors who accept the five-stage schema of the Stalinist period, especially among Soviet authors and researchers and those who think like them. Its main advantage is that there is less danger of interpreting it as a political hierarchy than in Bohannans model. Read about the 2011 African uprisings that the press forgot.
Leadership at its most elemental naturally depends on being judged better than the led, but even here ascribed aspects of the leader himself or of his family and descent group are frequently taken into account. On the other hand, public opinion sets the limits for the avengers. These include hunters and gatherers, and agricultural and pastoral peoples; they are patrilineal, matrilineal, and bilateral in descent; they are grouped in nomadic bands, settled villages, localized lineages, kindreds, and age organizations. To this extent it may be seen as a political community. For Jean Suret-Canale commercial exchanges played only a consolidating role in African states, states born of the sharpening of class contradictions internal to these societies and their mode of production. At the assembly, the elders laid the issues before the people.
LÉvi-Strauss, Claude 1958 1963 Structural Anthropology. Murngin bands Warner 1937 have a local patrician core with other attached relatives, but membership in the band fluctuates with the seasonal requirements of the food quest and the performance of numerous rituals. However, the band is closely knit by intersecting kinship ties, and a limited number of general kinship categories clearly define the relationship of all band members to one another. Ambedkar, on the other hand, was mistrustful of Indian society as he had experienced it, and placed his hopes on the constitutional State for the regeneration of the nation. In the wetseason when they were together, they had a political leader, the ardo.
To govern themselves, they formulated viable social systems with their own values, skills and wealth and successfully maintained their societies. There are stateful routers also. A Long Journey: The Bantu Migrations West Africa has a long and complex history. In the publication entitled Sur les Sociétés Précapitalistes, Maurice Godelier endeavoured to reconstruct what Marx actually thought using selected texts by Marx, Engels and Lenin, some of which had long been unknown to many researchers, a fact which had led to distortions and deviations throughout a whole historical period. Not only in the very small-scale societies, but also in the relatively small local groups of even the larger ones, there is constant reference to the fact that violent and continued conflict does not commonly occur in primary local groups because it is mutually recognized by all as too inconvenient and uncomfortable, so that those inclined to cause it are restrained by the spontaneous pressure of opinion against them or are ultimately forced to leave the group. These may be grouped under five very general headings.
It will be a mistake to believe that the State always imposed itself on stateless societies through the use of force. Thus, paradoxically, Turkana homogeneity differentiates the people and Murngin diversity does not; both arrangements serve the same general end in the maintenance of stateless society. Examples are the Kurds Turkey, Iran, Iraq , Berbers, Kashmirs, Tibetans China , Saharawis, and Basques. Most stateless and decentralized societies did not have a system of chiefs. While there are many different types of government in pre-colonial Africa, most political systems fit into one of three political categories. The extent to which the State is dispensable calls for our attention now in view of the contention between the State and civil society that has become a part of our public discourse. But rather 'the economic life of precolonial African societies was characterized by the juxtaposition of two apparently contradictory levels: on the one hand village subsistence, on the other, big international, even intercontinental trade.
There may even be some employees and followers. The international law approach, on the other hand, is not easy to understand and it often proved very baffling to colonial administrators; such societies also were frequently big headaches. Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace. This striking type of social system, still not well integrated in the mainstream of anthropological thought, is common in most parts of Indonesia, but more isolated examples are found in all major regions of the world. Whatever the case, while some societies comparable in many ways to the Asiatic societies experienced stagnation, this stagnation may be explained by the resistance to the explosion of the principal contradiction peculiar to the mode of production involved which is 'class exploitation and maintenance of collective ownership of land'. The very uncertainty of the condition of life necessitated total solidarity resting on an almost total egalitarianism. Kung, the Pygmies and the Fulani.
The tribe is found in the long track which runs through western Africa. The total Nuer group thus is a stateless society ruled by non-kinship groups. Kinship and Family - family and family ties are very much more extensive and more carefully maintained in African societies than is the case nowadays in most western societies. It seems to us that long-distance trade, by bringing in external factors, could only act to strengthen or weaken an existing mode of production already formed from social antagonisms internal to the society. The social world of the individual is classified into seven lines of descent extending over five generations, 71 kin categories forming eight intermarrying subsections.
Feuds were generally settled in course of time. The nature of these state forms may be similar to the Asiatic mode of production on condition that its geographical character is removed and it is not too narrowly defined. A second reason why decentralized societies have not been well studied has to do with prejudice. Anarchism is the view that a society without the state, or government, is both possible and desirable. Popularly, these terms, chaos and anarchy, are often treated as synonymous and used interchangeably.
Even when such a society came within the perimeter of a State, it did not abandon all the old mechanisms for the regulation of life or adopt all the new ones offered by the State. For states, legitimacy is correspondingly indivisible and undistributed. Must we then conclude that a slave society existed? Since everyone had a right to rise in society Igbo culture emphasized competition, competition between families, between lineages and between clans Webster and Boahen, 1970:166. Large exogamous patricians are dispersed throughout Turkana society and among neighboring related peoples. Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, Vol. In these societies the allocation of authority is vested in the elders of the society. As there are many polities within a single society, however differently defined and bounded from within, tensions and conflicts are worked out through the complementary opposition of groups arid categories formed on various bases and at several levels.
Catherine Coquery-Vidrovitch defines the mode of production that Africa experienced as 'the combination of a patriarchal communal economy and the exclusive ascendancy of one group over long-distance trade. No feud continues for ever without any interruption; nor does any peace. Lowie, Selected Papers in Anthropology. In the case of agricultural and pastoral peoples with large, dense populations, the potential number of relevant levels of identity is greater than for groups with small, sparse populations. The condition of captive, although very widespread in Africa, had an essentially legal content and did not imply any given role in the production which characterizes a social class. You must understand that all law, in one form or another comes down to contracts. By such changes the quality of society is radically transformed.