Paul Spencer presents the definitive study of the ways of life of the cattle-herding peoples of East Africa, drawing on many years of research. This region has offered a prime example of a traditional culture resisting the inevitability of change; it provides the best-known and most extensive instance both of cattle-pastoralist society and of social organization based primarily on age. Pastoral peoples were once dominant in the East African interior, but
development of the market economy has progressively polarized the region and forced them into the most marginal, drought-ridden areas; in this ecological trap they have become a peripheral underclass. The Pastoral Continuum examines the richness and resilience of their cultures and illuminates the role of
indigenous practices and institutions in adaptation and survival. The pastoralists' systems of age organization in particular are notable for their resilience: it is demonstrated that these are bound up with problems of growth and succession in family enterprises, and that marriage is a critical link in the web of alliance that governs the problematic relations between old and young. Spencer's exploration of the development of the pastoralist phenomenon yields a unique
view of its place in the modern world and its prospects for the future. This landmark work by a leading authority will be of lasting value to any reader interested in traditional social systems of this kind.
The author's statistical analyses provide valuable insights that will be of particular interest to more specialised readers. Spencer's study is neither overly romantic nor unduly pessimistic. He ends on a note of hope for the future of pastoralism as a way of life in eastern Africa./ Aneesa Kassam, lecturer in anthropology, Durham University, THES, 21/05/99.
PART I: THE PASTORAL COMMITMENT AND THE LOGIC OF TRADITION
1: Pastoralists and the Spirit of Enterprise
2: Polygyny and the Manifestations of Inequality
3: The Dynamics of Age Systems in East Africa
PART II: THE HISTORICAL CONTINUUM AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF PASTORALIST IDEALS
4: The Chamus Tradition of Pre-Pastoral Origins
5: The Thrust of Pastoral Innovations in Chamus.
6: The Emergence of Individualism and New Forms of Inequality
PART III: PASTORALISM AND THE THRUST OF CHANGE
7: Population Growth, Development, and the Malthusian Dilemma
8: Pastoralists and the Threshold of Change
9: The Extension of the Continuum and the Spread of the Desert
Series: Oxford Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology
Number Of Pages: 320
Published: 1st October 1997
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.39 x 15.6
Weight (kg): 0.66