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By Stephanie Wynne-Jones

A fabric Culture specializes in gadgets in Swahili society during the elaboration of an process that sees either humans and issues as stuck up in webs of mutual interplay. It hence presents either a brand new theoretical intervention in the various key topics in fabric tradition reports, together with the supplier of gadgets and the methods they have been associated with social identities, throughout the improvement of the thought of a biography of perform.

These theoretical discussions are explored in the course of the archaeology of the Swahili, at the Indian Ocean coast of japanese Africa. This coast used to be domestic to a sequence of "stonetowns" (containing coral structure) from the 9th century advert onwards, of which Kilwa Kisiwani is the main recognized, thought of right here in local context. those stonetowns have been deeply fascinated about maritime exchange, conducted between a various, Islamic population.

This publication means that the Swahili are a highly-significant case examine for exploration of the connection among gadgets and folks some time past, because the society used to be constituted and outlined via a selected fabric environment. extra, it is strongly recommended that this courting was once subtly various than in different components, and especially from western versions that dominate triumphing research. The case is made for an alternate type of materiality, probably universal to the broader Indian Ocean international, with an emphasis on redistribution and move instead of at the accumulation of wealth. The reader will as a result achieve familiarity with a little-known and interesting tradition, in addition to appreciating the ways in which non-western examples can upload to our theoretical models.

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Additional resources for A material culture : consumption and materiality on the coast of precolonial east Africa

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As well as acting OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 04/20/2016, SPi Introduction 7 through social objects, Gell argued, people also think through those objects; he gave specific examples of the Malanggan memorial-carving tradition and the Kula ring of Melanesia (see also Munn 1986; Strathern 1988; Weiner 1992). These both also demonstrate the ways that objects acquire histories, with their power to index intention and artistry extending beyond the original makers and encompassing the entire trail of interaction and use that brings them into social situations.

Such an approach is necessarily somewhat discontinuous, and the studies should be seen as a series of considerations of coastal materiality and the many ways that objects were important, rather than a grand model that might hold true across every site in the region. Within each chapter, the data are set in their context and compared to other archaeological studies: the result is a picture of diversity across coastal eastern Africa. The case studies are united rather by an approach, and by the suggestion that a consideration of objects in context can begin to give an insight into the practices of Swahili life, and the ways that people created and experienced the world of the precolonial eastern African coast.

They see no evidence for the distinction of elite groups in the settlement, or for evolutionary growth into a stone town. The shift to Chwaka at around ad 1000 instead ­indicates a more sudden difference in settlement type, and the foundation of a town that began to exert a centripetal force on surrounding populations (Fleisher 2010a). Even at the peak of Chwaka’s size and wealth, however, the townspeople still occupied earth and thatch housing, and there was little or no distinction obvious between the different houses in the site.

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