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Ethnogenesis and surplus food production: communitas and identity building among nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ilchamus, Lake Baringo, Kenya
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Archaeology and Ancient History, African and Comparative Archaeology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9936-1310
2017 (English)In: World archaeology, ISSN 0043-8243, E-ISSN 1470-1375Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Most archaeological discussions of surplus production tend to focus either on its role in the emergence and maintenance of social complexity (whether among hunter-gatherers, farming communities or incipient states) or on the enabling properties of surplus as a basis for technological advances and aesthetic elaboration. Here, we offer a rather different perspective on surplus as an initiator of communitas and driver of ethnogenesis following a period of intense socio-ecological stress, environmental degradation and localized demographic decline during the nineteenth century. The particular case study concerns the Maa-language-speaking Ilchamus community who currently occupy areas around the southern end of Lake Baringo in the Central Rift Valley, Kenya. Drawing on a combination of new archaeological evidence, oral accounts and archival sources, the paper details the processes whereby destitute groups were drawn together into acts of surplus food production, initially of grain via the implementation of a system of irrigated agriculture and subsequently of cattle through the mobilization of kinship and related ties. In so doing, disparate older identities were abandoned or transformed and a different, unifying ethnicity – Ilchamus – emerged based on a new moral economy of shared prosperity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
London: Routledge, 2017.
Keyword [en]
Kenya, Ilchamus, surplus production, communitas, ethnogenesis, irrigation agriculture
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-319072DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2016.1259583OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-319072DiVA: diva2:1086115
Projects
Resilience in East African Landscapes
Funder
EU, FP7, Seventh Framework Programme, 606879
Available from: 2017-03-31 Created: 2017-03-31 Last updated: 2017-03-31

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
  • fi-FI
  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf