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The theory and ethnography of African social formations

Archie Mafeje

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This brilliant contribution to African social science presents an original theory of social formations with a new methodological approach. Professor Mafeje critically reviews the works of orthodox anthropologists, questioning the impact on African Studies of both development theory and classical ethnography. Within a context of redefining forms of political organization, he uses research on the East African Lacustrian Kingdoms to analyse the articulation of the relationship between political and economic power. Arguing that pastoralism and agriculture need not represent different modes of production, but rather socially controlled options within the same mode, he rejects articulation theory and the concept of feudalism. Finally he evaluates the impact of colonial capitalism on different social formations. It is an outstanding theoretical contribution that raises new perspectives on the classic issues of exploitation, class and social change in African societies. « A major breakthrough in the study of these state formations ». Professor Peter Rigby Author of Persistent Pastoralists (Zed, 1985)

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