Being Maasai
Ethnicity and Identity In East Africa

Edited by Thomas Spear and Richard Waller

“The editors have succeeded in assembling a remarkably integrated set of essays that is at once the most historical study of the Maasai yet published and a significant contribution to the growing volume of literature on ethnicity and identity in Africa.”

Charles Ambler, University of Texas, El Paso

“This is a rich collection, crammed with information presented from several different analytical perspectives, and the pieces repeatedly offer valuable critical insights on each other.”

Justin Willis, British Institute in Eastern Africa

Everyone “knows” the Maasai as proud pastoralists who once dominated the Rift Valley from northern Kenya to central Tanzania.

But many people who identity themselves as Maasai, or who speak Maa, are not pastoralist at all, but farmers and hunters. Over time many different people have “become” something else. And what it means to be Maasai has changed radically over the past several centuries and is still changing today.

This collection by historians, archaeologists, anthropologists and linguists examines how Maasai identity has been created, evoked, contested, and transformed from the time of their earliest settlement in Kenya to the present, as well as raising questions about the nature of ethnicity generally.

Thomas Spear received his doctorate in history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He has written histories of Zwangendaba’s Ngoni, the Mijikenda (The Kaya Complex), eastern and central Kenya (Kenya’s Past), The Swahili (with Derek Nurse); and the Meru and Arusha peoples of Tanzania (Mountain Farmers). Formerly at La Trobe University and Williams College, he is professor of history emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Richard Waller is Professor Emeritus of History at Bucknell University.

Order a print copy

Paperback · $26.36 · Add to Cart

Retail price: $32.95 · Save 20% ($26.36)

Find at a local bookstore


Download an electronic copy

Amazon Kindle Store Barnes & Noble NOOK Google Play iBooks Store

Availability and price vary according to vendor.

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center

Downloads & Links


In Series

Eastern African Studies

Related Subjects

African History · Anthropology · Sociology · Nationalism · African Studies · Maasai · Race and Ethnicity · Eastern Africa · Kenya



Retail price: $32.95, S.
Release date: Apr. 1993
336 pages · 5¼ × 8½ in.
Rights:Americas, and Pacific Rim




Release date: Apr. 1993
≅ 336 pages
Rights:Americas, and Pacific Rim