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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:When did the Luyia (or any other group) become a tribe?
Author:MacArthur, Julie
Periodical:Canadian Journal of African Studies (ISSN 0008-3968)
Geographic term:Kenya
ethnic identity
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00083968.2014.893963
Abstract:In 1977, John Lonsdale published a review of William R. Ochieng's study 'A pre-colonial history of the Gusii of Western Kenya' in the 'Kenya Historical Review'. Entitled 'When did the Gusii (or any other group) become a 'tribe'?, the ten-page article was less a book review and more a treatise on the practice of history in Africa. Taking Lonsdale's question as a point of inspiration, this article provides a critical rethinking of the theories of 'tribe', ethnicity and identity politics that continue to dominate African scholarship by examining the particular case of the Luyia in western Kenya. Through the seemingly incongruous and stubbornly diverse accounting of Luyia political community, this study suggests that histories of ethnic identity remain trapped by their own constructivist logic, elevating the 'inventors' of traditional accounts at the expense of the plural and dissenting voices that characterize the multiple forms of political imagination practised across Africa that, while diverse, continue to rely on the idiom of the 'tribe'. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]