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Title: Concepts of sovereignty among the Shambaa and their relation to political action
Author: Feierman, Steven
ISNI:       0000 0001 3458 7944
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1972
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This thesis is a study of the political symbols and general political concepts of the Shambaa of north-eastern Tanzania, and of their relation to changing patterns of political action in the Shambaa kingdom as it existed before colonial conquest at the end of the nineteenth century. The thesis is based on research which was carried out between March 1966 and August 1968 in Tanzania, and in 1965-1966 in British and German archives. The work is an attempt to explore the relationship between two bodies of evidence on the political organization of the Shambaa. First, there are the configurations of symbols and sets of general concepts of the Shambaa view of politics. In these, linear non-reversible time is suppressed. History is seen by the Shambaa as an alternation between strong Kings who dominated the chiefs and thereby brought fertility to the entire land, and weak Kings who competed with the chiefs, in which cases there was famine. Secondly, there is the record of political action throughout the history of the kingdom. There were frequent changes not only in the distribution of power between King and chiefs, but also in the potential sources of support for competing leaders, it is shown that the patterns of action which are explained by the Shambaa in terms of the general concepts did indeed change. In Shambaa kingship the divergence between experience and an articulated system of cultural ideology was potentially great because the King was expected to provide leadership when new political or economic forces in the region impinged on the kingdom, and because the King often had the power to act in ways which were unexpected. For these reasons, the most important political concepts were general and ambiguous. They lacked precision in their classification of social groups, and in their specification of accepted behaviour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Shambala (African people) ; Politics and government ; Sovereignty ; Tanzania