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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Bobo 'House' and the Uses of Categories of Descent
Author:Saul, Mahir
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute
Geographic term:Burkina Faso
Subjects:social structure
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/1160270
Abstract:The purpose of this article, which is based on fieldwork conducted in the Bobo village of Bare, Burkina Faso, in 1983-1984, is to show how conceptual systems of classification in Bobo ethnography enter into the construction of social life without narrowly determining people's conduct. The southern Bobo recognize both patrilineal and matrilineal descent categories in which people are included by patrifiliation and matrifiliation. The inclusion occurs at the birth of the person and there are cultural mechanisms that make the change or the misrepresentation of this identity especially difficult. However, the unilineal sets do not frequently materialize as social groups. Agnatic segments may join each other to form the core of associations which constitute the social groups most in evidence in the political and economic life of the village. These associations in turn establish larger confederations of varying strength and different time depth on the basis of common settlement history and political interest. All these forms of association are achieved without the constituent segments losing their separate agnatic identities. The article shows how land and offices in important cults can be claimed on the basis of any of these organizational principles in a political game that implicitly questions the constitutive norms that shape community life. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. also in French.