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Title: Religious and political leadership in Persian Baluchistan : a study in the confusion of temporal and spiritual authority
Author: Spooner, Brian
ISNI:       0000 0000 7837 0416
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1967
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1. The aim of the thesis is threefold: i) to present a fully dynamic analysis of leadership among the Baluch in the Persian Province of Baluchistan, ii) to illustrate the sociological distinction (or lack of it) between sacré and profane on different planes in the society, iii) to make some advance in the theoretical treatment of personality as a sociological factor in leadership. 2. The Baluch in general form a linguistic and sub-cultural unit within the broader cultural context of Eastern or Iranian Islam. The Persian Province of Baluchistan, which is roughly coterminous with the area of Persia where the Baluch form the majority of the population, is an isolated area which presents great extremes of altitude, climate and fertility. Natural conditions break the society down into small communities (whether settled or nomadic), and force it into dependence on a combination of agriculture and pastoralism in varying proportions. In almost every aspect of the material culture utter simplicity and dependence on the environment is evident. However, complex patterns of movement and other sociological factors keep all communities and classes constantly in touch with each other, and counteract the fragmenting effect of the the environment. Baluch society within the Province consists of: i) Balush - who are predominantly nomadic, ii) shahri - who are generally peasants, iii) ghulāms - who until recently were slaves, and iv) a superstructure of dynastic families, for which however there is no native term. From the point of view of leadership, there are also four role-statuses: i) kamāsh - who may be secular or religious, ii) maulawi - who is religious, iii) darwish - who is also religious, and iv) "chief" - who is secular, and for which there is no really equivalent native term. Political aspirations invariably function through one or other of these role-statuses, which however cannot be said to form a structure. A chief must be a member of a dynastic family, and is a leader by definition. Holders of the other three role-statuses are only potentially leaders: they may or may not lead in fact. The chief is generally but not necessarily more powerful than holders of the other role-statuses. Every man inherits a tribal name agnatically, and the word for tribe (zāt) is best translated as "birth status". However, the zāt of a man's mother is also an important factor in determining his status. He may only improve his status within limits by his own achievements. There are also institutionalised forms of behaviour for particular occasions and situations, and there is a "formal" religion - Islam. Beyond these factors there is no institutionalisation in the society, and so there is practically no specifically political institutionalisation at all. Furthermore, the terms for the three role-statuses which are named in the society are all of alien origin. 3. This situation makes it impossible to understand and analyse realistically the present framework of political conceptions in the society without taking cognisance both of the history of these conceptions and of comparative material from neighbouring societies, for all of these conceptions have at least archaistic aspects, and in some respects contact with the semantic origin of the term still conditions its use within the society. In general, a zāt represents a group of immigrants to the Province. The people who brought the name "Baluch" and the Baluchi language into the Province appear to have arrived there in the 11th century. There is evidence that agriculture flourished in the Province before the Baluch came, but we know nothing of any pastoral life there before them. The names of the main agricultural settlements were the same before the Baluch came as they are now. There are no other pre-Baluch names in the Province. On the basis of the historical and comparative data available a theoretical model is constructed to demonstrate the synchronic and diachronic contexts of the present situation. This model is particularly relevant to the study of: i) relationships between settled and nomadic and the mixture of various ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups; ii) the ways in which social stratification may result from such mixtures; iii) how certain political relationships - particularly the feudal relationship - may develop in these circumstances, and, iv) how the constellation and importance of kin and affinal relationships may be affected. 4. The kinship terminology is simple and cognatic. There are strong ties between brother and sister, and between cousins. Brothers and sisters generally inherit equal shares of land, except that the eldest son may be given an extra share. Livestock is gnerally inherited by sons only. Landownership is only of secondary importance to leadership. Marriage preference (for first or only wives) is for "cousins", and the bride-price is high and not affected by the choice of a father's brother's daughter. Some communities and classes are generally monogamous, others generally polygymous, and it is possible to discern a difference in the function and conception of marriage in the two cases. Matri- and patri-locality is better interpreted in terms of the fact that solidary political groupings (formed by marriage or allegiance) are generally more important sociologically than geographical and seological groupings. Among the nomadic Baluch a corollary of the orientation towards kinship, tribal affiliation, etc., is the instability of the individual camp. Marriage and inheritance practices reinforce "class" identity - particularly in the dynastic families where this identity is most important. Similarly, because of these practices, members of dynastic families acquire ownership interests in widely scattered pieces of land, and are therefore encouraged to move about continually. 5. The dynastic families form a superstructure. The chief is generally the paramount leader in a certain area, and has a certain vaguely defined "people". There are communities and areas without chiefs. Holders of the other role-statuses may also function as paramount leaders. Any leader automatically qualifies for one or other of the traditional role-statuses. This essay is concerned primarily with the chief who is seen (by the Baluch) as the most typical form of paramount leader but for whom nevertheless there is no native term. The main functions of the leader are to provide social control and initiative, but he also personifies the prestige of the community. A chief (or other leader) rules generally through kenash, who form the basic political denominators of the society. Neither is directly chosen or elected by the other. The extent of a leader's power depends basically on two factors: i) his "ecological" situation, i.e. parentage, alliance, etc. ii) his "personality", of which the first is little use without the latter, but the latter is to a large extent confirmed by the former. A certain quality attaches to this personality of the leader - particularly in the case of the chief - who has affinities with Weber's "charisma". In the Baluch Period (before 1928), where possible a chief operated from a fort in an agricultural centre, and generally either owed (informal) allegiances to a senior chief, or was owed allegiances by another chief or chiefs. He was traditionally entitled to a tithe on the produce of the land he controlled (apart from his major share of the produce from the land he owned), and service from the pastoralists. In addition to this in many cases he also collected a tax (in origin nourped from the Persian Government) from all sections of the population.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Anthropology ; Theology and Religion ; Political science ; Asia ; Baluchistan ; leadership ; personality