Feasts and Riot: Revelry, Rebellion, and Popular Consciousness on the Swahili Coast, 1856-1888
In 1888 a handful of German adventurers bungled an attempt to conquer the Muslim towns of the East African coast. They were expelled almost immediately, but their intrusion sparked a political crisis that led to the collapse of all civil authority in the Swahili towns. "Feasts and Riot" traces the background to that crisis, using the events of 1888 as a window through which to examine the nature of class conflict and popular consciousness in precolonial Africa.
Glassman shows how the contours of market penetration were shaped by local patterns of struggle, particularly struggle over the definition of community institutions. Deriving his approach from the writings of Gramsci, the author focuses on the ambiguity of popular rebellion. Lower class rebels were motivated neither by a distinct, class-based vision of society, nor by dedication to any "traditional" way of life. Instead, they expressed a rebellious interpretation of community ideals, ideals that they held in common with their social superiors.
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