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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Cultures of East Africa in the Process of Structural Transformation (19th-20th Centuries)
Author:Girenko, Nikolai
Periodical:St. Petersburg Journal of African Studies
Geographic term:East Africa
Subjects:social change
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
History and Exploration
Abstract:The correlation of the cultural and the social resembles the dialectic contradiction between form and content. Socioeconomic change is a necessary impetus for any qualitative transformation. To illustrate his theoretical propositions, the author looks at evolutionary change in East Africa in the precolonial and colonial period. In precolonial East Africa, the majority of social organisms were potestary societies. In terms of social structure, they were tribes at different stages of evolution. Culturally, they were mono-form. The emergence of supertribal social units was accompanied by a new notion of central and peripheral cultures. In the Great Lakes region a differentiation between cattle breeder and agriculturist cultures emerged within the bounds of a single social organism. On the East African coast, Swahili towns arose at the contact points of barter and commodity-money exchange. They did not tend to territorial expansion or to growth of social hierarchy. Internal exchange was weak and Swahili social culture displayed features of ethnosocial stratification. The evolving social relationships in East Africa manifested a tendency to shifting correlations between the social and the cultural, depending on the transformation of social realities. Whereas in the tribal mono-norm cultural and social distinctions were connected, with the emergence of supertribal social organisms, cultural specificity could serve to establish social function and status within the system as a whole. Bibliogr.