Swahili Origins · Swahili Culture and The Shungwaya Phenomenon · By James de Vere Allen

Kiswahili has become the lingua franca of eastern Africa. Yet there can be few historic peoples whose identity is as elusive as that of the Swahili. Some have described themselves as Arabs, as Persians or even, in one place, as Portuguese. It is doubtful whether, even today, most of the people about whom this book is written would unhesitatingly and in all contexts accept the name Swahili. This book was central to the thought and lifework of the late James de Vere Allen.

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Dance Civet Cat · Tonga Children and Labour in the Zambezi Valley · By Pamela Reynolds

In this, the first comprehensive study of the Tonga people in Zimbabwe, Pamela Reynolds focuses on children’s work in a subsistence agricultural system, assessing how much work they do, the value of their work to their families and how it both limits their opportunities and fosters their personal growth and knowledge.

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In the Heart of the Hausa States · By Paul Staudinger · Edited by Johanna E. Moody · Foreword by Paul E. Lovejoy

Consequent upon the Berlin West Africa Conference (1884–1885), the Africanische Gesellschaft in Deutschland launched the Niger-Benue expedition to investigate possible riverine communications throughout the Niger-Benue river system. Responsibility for the expedition ultimately fell to Paul Staudinger, a young entomologist with no experience of inner Africa.

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Anthropology and Historiography of Science · By D. P. Chattopadhyaya

Whether history or anthropology is the most fundamental social science remains still a controversial and undecided issue. For a proper understanding of this instructive controversy, the presuppositions of these two disciplines need to be critically and philosophically reviewed. Otherwise the true perspective of the controversy remains undisclosed and therefore unintelligible.

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Siaya · The Historical Anthropology of an African Landscape · By David William Cohen and E. S. Atieno Odhiambo

The authors of this highly original book set out to remove the persistent boundary between the authors and readers of ethnography on one hand and the subjects of ethnography on the other – those who observe and those who are observed. The authors use stories to reveal Siaya, the Luo-speaking area of Western Kenya down near the Lake but still surprisingly vulnerable to drought.

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African Philosophy, Culture, and Traditional Medicine · By M. Akin Makinde

For over two centuries, Western scholars have discussed African philosophy and culture, often in disparaging, condescending terms, and always from an alien European perspective. Many Africans now share this perspective, having been trained in the western, empirical tradition. Makinde argues that, particularly in view of the costs and failings of western style culture, Africans must now mold their own modern culture by blending useful western practices with valuable indigenous African elements.

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Change and Continuity in Minangkabau · Local, Regional, and Historical Perspectives on West Sumatra · By Lynn L. Thomas and Franz Von Benda-Beckmann

Social scientists have long recognized many apparent contradictions in the Minangkabau. The world’s largest matrilineal people, they are also strongly Islamic and, as a society, remarkably modern and outward looking. Focusing on Minangkabau proper, and treating several adjacent areas as well, this collection examines the resilience and adaptability of the Minangkabau in the face of outside political and economic pressures and of distortions in social science and legal theory.

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History of the Malay Kingdom of Patani · By Ibrahim Syukri

This translation of Ibrahim Syukri’s Sejarah Kerajaan Melayu Patani (SKMP) makes available a little known but important manuscript published privately ca. 1950 and printed in jawi (Malay written in a modified Arabic script). Shortly after its publication, the book was banned in both Thailand and Malaysia. It appears that a few copies of the original printing survived.

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Ritual Cosmos · The Sanctification of Life in African Religions · By Evan M. Zuesse

In the West we are accustomed to think of religion as centered in the personal quest for salvation or the longing for unchanging Being. Perhaps this is why we have found it so difficult to understand the religions of Africa. These religions are oriented to very different goals: fecundity, prosperity, health, social harmony.

Cover of 'Ritual Cosmos'