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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The relationship between trade in southern Mozambique and state formation: reassessing Hedges on cattle, ivory and brass
Author:Chewins, Linell
Periodical:Journal of Southern African Studies (ISSN 1465-3893)
Geographic terms:Mozambique
Southern Africa
Subjects:State formation
political history
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070.2016.1200869
Abstract:For the past 37 years, David Hedges' cattle trade theory has dominated the historical analysis of state formation in southern Africa during the 19th century. This theory centres on a cattle trade that came to replace the ivory trade from the late 18th century onwards, and was based on the demand for fresh meat by whalers. In the view of Hedges, the increased cattle trade placed considerable pressure on societies to replenish herds, given the socially and politically important role that cattle played in southern African societies. And since this change coincided with a severe and prolonged drought, it necessitated the restocking of cattle herds through the systematised military raiding of cattle, which, in turn, required a centralised government. In reviewing the evidence for shifts in the patterns of trade at this time, during which whalers called at Delagoa Bay to hunt, discrepancies in Hedges' analysis came to light.The Portuguese ivory trade at Delagoa Bay started in 1545, when a sporadic trade based on the monsoon seasons laid the foundation for the export of ivory that would boom in the latter half of the 18th century. This trade has been a key element in the dominant explanations offered for accelerated processes of political centralisation in northern Kwazulu-Natal, which culminated in the rise of the Zulu kingdom. David Hedges developed the most influential and enduring of these arguments in his doctoral dissertation in 1978. He argued that it was a sharp contraction of the ivory trade in the last two decades of the 19th century that was a major cause of conflict and state formation. This article reviews the evidence and arguments presented by Hedges and suggests that while his work has provided an important contribution to the debate, elements of his argument need substantial revision. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]