A Pastoral Democracy: A Study of Pastoralism and Politics Among the Northern Somali of the Horn of Africa

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LIT Verlag Münster, 1999 - History - 320 pages
First published in 1961, shortly after establishment of the independent Somali Republic, the first step towards the formation of a 'Greater Somalia', brought this North-East African Muslim nation a prominence which it had not enjoyed since the British campaigns against the 'Mad Mullah' in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Somali nationalism, however, cannot be properly understood without a knowledge of the indigenous social organization. This study by a social anthropologist describes the political system of the Northern Somali nomads in their arid ecological setting, where competition for access to water and pasture, especially in the dry season, is acute and leads to frequent and often long-drawn-out feuds. In this warlike society political status depends very largely on numerical strength. Political loyalties based on kinship are organized through a form of Social Contract which distinguishes the pastoral Somali political system from otherwise similar political structures. Today this traditional organization is being challenged in areas where cultivation has recently been adopted, and in towns which are the foci of modern developments. Somali nationalism, drawing much of its strength from the unifying force of Islam, is an important factor. With the continued dedication of the majority of the population to pastoral nomadism, however, traditional clan and contractual loyalties inevitably play an important part in party politics. This analysis has proved to be of interest not only to anthropologists and Africanists, but also to students of Islamic society and of comparative political institutions.

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Preface to the 1982 Edition
Ecology and Clan
Pastoralism and the structure of Grazing Encampments
Settlement and Cultivation
Clanship and the Paradigm of the Lineage System
Clanship and Contract
Authority and Sanctions
Force and Feud
Nationalism and Party Politics

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Page v - s methods were spelt out first in the Institute's journal Africa and later as a special memorandum ('Methods of Study of Culture Contact in Africa') which was to be re-published by the Institute again in 1959. Although there were also smaller grants, the Research Fellows of the 1930s could take their time: after 18 months...
Page vi - Practical anthropology', Africa, 2, 1929, p.37. 2 'Practical anthropology', pp. 22-38. International Institute of African Languages and Cultures, 'A five-year plan of research', Africa, 5.1, 1932, p.2. 3 'A five-year plan of research', pl later. Meanwhile the Institute set in motion a broad programme of publication. The bias towards social change and development was intrinsic in the way the Institute was first conceived and then established in 1926. The original concern, of both missionaries and...
Page xi - My full brother and I against my half-brother, my brother and I against my father, my father's household against my uncle's household, our two households (my uncle's and mine) against the rest of the immediate kin, the immediate kin against nonimmediate members of my clan, my clan against other clans, and, finally, my nation and I against the world.
Page 1 - Like many pastoral nomads who range far and wide with their herds of camels and flocks, the Somali have no indigenous centralized government. And this lack of formal government and of instituted authority is strongly reflected in their extreme independence and individualism. Few writers have failed to notice the formidable pride of the Somali nomad, his extraordinary sense of superiority as an individual, and his firm conviction that he is sole master of his actions and subject to no authority except...

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