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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Matrilineages, Economic Groups and Differentiation in West Africa: A Note
Author:Gastellu, Jean-Marc
Periodical:Development and Change
Geographic terms:Senegal
Ivory Coast - Côte d'Ivoire
West Africa
subsistence economy
Economics and Trade
Women's Issues
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Cultural Roles
Sex Roles
Abstract:On the basis of research carried out between 1967 and 1981 among the Serer of the MBayar region of central Senegal, and among the Agni of the Moronu region in southeast Ivory Coast, the author argues that the distribution of production in these two West African societies is related to the structure of 'household' enterprise. Differences in household membership are consonant with differences in the organization of groups involved in production, consumption and investment. Among the Serer, such groups have different, overlapping memberships, whereas among the Agni, economic groups are superimposed on one another. An interpretation of the economic process over time indicates that in both societies wealth, whether achieved initially through individual accumulation as in the Agni case, or through pooling, as in the Serer case, ultimately results in collective accumulation which preserves the 'power' of the community of coheirs. In the long run, competition and differentiation take place between matrilineages rather than individuals, and can be better represented in terms of 'power' than in terms of 'wealth'. This implies that development projects based on some form of indigenous kinship organization must envisage both individual and collective phases in the cycle of production, consumption and investment. App., bibliogr., notes.