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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:East Africa, the Comoros Islands and Madagascar before the sixteenth century: on a neglected part of the world system
Author:Beaujard, PhilippeISNI
Periodical:Azania: Archaeological Research in Africa (ISSN 1945-5534)
Notes:biblio. refs., maps
Geographic terms:East Africa
Subjects:mercantile history
trade routes
centre and periphery
History, Archaeology
Islands of the Indian Ocean--Civilization
Islands of the Indian Ocean--History
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/00672700709480448
Abstract:Two opposing explanations for the flowering of the East African coast have been proposed. First, that a foreign culture was brought to the coast and imposed on the local inhabitants by migrants. Alternatively, that a pre-Swahili and then Swahili culture emerged from indigenous developments and owed little to migrants. In order to overcome this opposition, the author views the Swahili culture as an African one which developed via long-distance exchange embedded in the Eurasian and African world system. He shows that a nonholistic world system approach, taking into account all the interactions between global, regional and local levels, constitutes a useful model which makes it possible to recognize and understand: the emergence and the evolution of an international division of labour in the Indian Ocean, over the 'longue durée'; the connections between events in distant regions, and between the regions themselves; the existence of cycles, both economic and political, in the development of East Africa; shifts of power between competing centres, and changing inequalities with both processes of domination and processes of co-evolution set in motion by the system and local expansions. Some regions were able to benefit from the general growth of the system, notably certain parts of the East African littoral. So were some social groups, which constituted an interface between dominant regions of the world system and peripheries situated in the African interior and offshore islands (Comoros and Madagascar). Bibliogr. [ASC Leiden abstract]