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Political Anthropology 2.


Lecture 10 Political ... the king of Western Samoa, ... Anyone coming onto land belonging to apolitical authority became subject to that authority and all his ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Political Anthropology 2.

Lecture 10
  • Political Anthropology 2.
  • Chiefs, states and state formation

  • Why should anyone accept being a subordinate
  • What is authority and why do we obey? Or not?
  • What is the nature of power?

Some theories
  • Political order is achieved through coercion and
    the origin of social inequality is power
  • Political order is a functional necessity, it
    enables the efficient avoidance of conflict and
    thus for society to progress.

Typologies of political leadership
  • Lewellen, Ted C. Political anthropology an
    introduction. South Hadley, Mass. Bergin
    Garvey, 1983
  • Johnson, Allen W. Timothy Earle. The evolution
    of human societies from foraging group to
    agrarian state. Stanford, Calif. Stanford
    University Press, 1987.

  • Sahlins, M. 1963 Poor Man, Rich Man, Big-Man,
    Chief Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia
    " Comparative Studies in Society and History
    Vol. 5, No. 3 (Apr., 1963), pp. 285-303
  • Gluckman, Max 1940 The Kingdom of the Zulu in
    Fortes, M. and E. E. Evans-Pritchard (eds)
    African Political Systems London Oxford
    University Press.
  • Deflem, Mathieu. 1999. Warfare, Political
    Leadership, and State Formation The Case of the
    Zulu Kingdom, 1808-1879. Ethnology
    38(4)371-391. http//www.cas.sc.edu/socy/faculty/

Marshal Sahlins Poor man, Rich man, big, chief
  • Comparison of political leadership between
    Melanesia and Polynesia
  • Both regions have similar production base, family
    production of
  • Yams, taro, breadfruit, bananas and coconuts, and
    raising of pigs.
  • Yet Polynesia has elaborate forms of rank and
  • whereas Melanesia has small scale polities with
    leadership based on personal renown.

  • In Melanesia power tends to be personal based on
    reputation and achievement

"Big man" officiating at a pig give-away ceremony
in Papua New Guinea http//anthro.palomar.edu/po
  • Bigman is not a title of chief or office,
    variously translates man of renown, generous
    richman, or centre man.
  • Such a man in the centre of a faction
  • He is able to manipulate power by reciprocity and
    exchange with other groups and factions
  • These men assert their authority by amassing
    large numbers of pigs and other valued goods and
    giving them away to rivals
  • Big men have a entrepreneurial career
  • The political limits of the system are set by the
    fact that leadership is personal, so that
    reputation and faction fade with a leaders
    prowess and die with him.

  • Polynesia has pyramid structure of chiefs and

Samoan chief. , c 1910 www.oceania-ethnographic
  • Kinship provides as system for ranking all in
  • Chiefs inherit office as eldest sons
  • Chiefs are able to command people and resources
  • Tabu
  • Redistribution
  • Chiefs retinue/faction supported by work of lower
  • Unstable centralisation The political limits of
    the developing chiefdom set by extraction
    possible from the core of the polity to keep
    control of the periphery.

Malietoa Tanumafili II, the king of Western
Samoa, died 2007
King Mata'afa Iosefa (1832-1912), his wife Talala
(Kalala) and his daughters in traditional
costumes. Samoa ca. 1900. 

Key points of comparison
  • Chiefly personality v. Bigman personality
  • Impersonal office allows redistribution rather
    than reciprocity
  • Family based division of labour set limits on
    amount which can be extracted to support other
  • Significance of ideology reciprocity with the
    gods enables their representatives to accumulate
  • The combination of economic control, military
    might, and ceremonial legitimacy, are the key
    themes in the evolution of chiefdoms. T.Earle

Institutional characteristics of a state
  • Territory - borders
  • Monopoly of the use of violence - army
  • Taxation revenue raising
  • Administration bureaucracy, judiciary
  • Claim to legitimacy expressed in ritual and

The Kingdom of the Zulu by Max Gluckman in
African Political Systems.
  • The Nguni family of Bantu speaking people who
    later formed the Zulu nation migrated into south
    eastern Africa about the middle of the 15C.
  • They were pastoralists practising shifting
    cultivation. They lived in scattered homesteads
    occupied by male agnates and their families a
    number of these homesteads were united under a
    chief the heir of the their senior line into a
    tribe. A tribe was divided into sections under
    brothers of the chief and as a result of a
    quarrel a section might migrate an establish
    itself as an independent clan and tribe. Cattle
    raids were frequent but there were no wars of

  • From about 1775 the motive for war had changed,
    possibly owing to pressure of population. Certain
    tribes conquered their neighbours and small
    kingdoms emerged. In this struggle Shaka head of
    the Zulu tribe was victorious by his personal
    characteristics and military strategy, he made
    himself in ten years ruler of what is now
    Zululand. He organised a nation out of the people
    he conquered.

  • Shaka follows a pattern of founding national
    heros, starting as a excluded marginal figure who
    through charisma and organisational innovation
    unites the nation. Military tactics of shield and
    stabbing spear. Extreme cruelty and paranoia
  • In the series of devastating wars which led to
    great loss of life and widespread migration. The
    clans dispersed as units and members of a single
    clan might be widely spread over Zululand. They
    retained their clan names and their respect for
    the head of the senior line. The important
    kinship links which were the basis of social
    organisation were still formed by the inhabitants
    of separate homesteads. At the head of a
    homestead was the senior male by descent of the
  • Among the local agnatic groups there were often
    homesteads of other relatives by marriage or
    matrilineal relationships
  • Strangers might attach themselves to an important
    man as his servants or dependents and would be
    absorbed with their relatives into his kinship
    group as quasi kin.

The regiments
  • An important change in Zulu life was caused by
    the younger men having to serve at the kings
    military barracks which kept them from home most
    of the year. In the homesteads the older men and
    the boys herded the cattle and the women worked
    the fields. Each homestead had its own fields and
    cattle fold. But the division of labour had to
    vary to accommodate military service to the king.
    The Kings regiments could not marry until
    permitted to by the king, and married a regiment
    of women.
  • The regiments were recruit by age. Completed in
    honour and valour and were rewarded with
    distinctive uniforms and shields.

Zulu warrior regalia
  • The Zulu nation thus consisted of members of some
    hundreds of clans united by the allegiance to the
    king. The people belonged to the king and he
    therefore took the fine in cases of assault or
  • While the kinship basis of politic groups
    disappeared the new ones which emerged were
    described in kinship terms for political officer
    was spoken of as the father of his people and his
    relationship to them was conceived to be similar
    to that of a father and his children. But
    importantly political organisation and allegiance
    had become territorial.
  • The king owned the land. All who came to live in
    Zululand had to acknowledge his sovereignty. This
    was true of the chiefs at the lower levels of the
    political pyramid. Anyone coming onto land
    belonging to apolitical authority became subject
    to that authority and all his subjects were
    entitled to land in his area.

Nation and state
  • The Zulu nation therefore can be defined as a
    group of people owing allegiance to a common
    head, the king, and occupying a defined
  • They combined under the king to attack or defend
    themselves against outside groups.
  • In addition to controlling relations with other
    Bantu peoples and the Europeans, the king
    exercised judicial, administrative and
    legislative authority over his people with power
    to enforce his decisions.
  • He performed religious ceremonies and magical
    acts on behalf of the nation.
  • All the tribes which made up the nation spoke
    dialects of the same language and had a common

Military power and control of violence
  • The dominant values of Zulu society was that of
    the warrior. The rituals of state were
    militarised and performed by regiments of
    warriors and maidens. The regiments belonged to
    the king alone. They lived in barracks
    concentrated about the capital, the chiefs had no
    control over the regiments and assembled their
    own people in territorial not age divisions.
  • The centralisation of regiments in the kings area
    gave him a position in Zululand entirely
    different from that of any of his chiefs, and
    gave the state a stability and power not
    previously available.

Courts and administration
  • The king was also the supreme court of the nation
    and appeals from the chiefs courts went to him.
    There were always in residence at his capital
    some indunas who heard special difficult cases
    and gave verdicts in the kings name.
  • Most of the indunas were chiefs ruling areas of
    their own, others were sons, brothers and uncles
    of the king and there were commoners lifted up
    by the king for their wisdom and knowledge of the
  • Two of the kings Indunas were more important that
    the others the one was specifically commander of
    the army and was a chief or prince the other was
    the great induna (prime minister) and had the
    weightiest voice in discussing affairs of state.
    He was never a member of the royal family.
  • The Zulu believe that the welfare of the country
    depended on the king having wise and strong
    councillors ready to criticise the king. In
    Council the king was supposed to put matters to
    the Council but speak last having heard his
    councillors views. Thus the indunas placed a
    degree of constraint on the King.

  • The kings communicates with is chiefs by runners.
    To impersonate a kings messenger was punishable
    by death. Thus orders to mobilize at the capital,
    projected laws and matters of national import
    were announced to the people by the king through
    his chiefs, though many announcements were made
    at the first fruits ceremony. When necessary the
    chiefs passed on these orders to their indunas in
    charge of wards and these reported to the heads
    of lineage groups and homesteads.
  • All the people were entitled to express their
    opinion on affairs and they did this through the
    heads of their kinship groups and then their
    intermediate political officers. In addition the
    chiefs and indunas had administrative duties
    within their own districts including the
    allocation of land and maintenance of order,
    trying of cases, watching over their districts
    welfare, taking ritual steps to protect the
    crops, and looking for sorcerers. Chief like the
    king received gifts of corn and cattle but they
    levied no regular tribute. They could call out
    their subjects to work their fields, build their
    homesteads, arrest malefactors or hunt.
  • The nation was a federation of tribes who
    separate identities were symbolised by their
    chiefs. The tribes were even autonomous within
    the national organisation for on occasion many
    tribesmen supported their chiefs in quarrels with
    the king. However, it was interrelations between
    tribes that the tribal identities mainly appeared.

Gifts, tribute, taxation?
  • From his subjects point of view, the main duty
    they owned was military service including labour
  • it was customary to vie him gifts of grain beer
    cattle and (some say) girls.
  • As he also received most of the cattle, the women
    captured in war, fines for certain offences, he
    was easily the richest man in the nation.
  • In return for this he was expected to feed and
    help his people generously. He had to care for
    his regiments and give them their shields. In
    famine he was expected to help all his people and
    also at all times of difficulties.
  • Thus if the king rules according to tradition, he
    was generous to his subjects, using his wealth
    for them, he gave them justice, he protected
    their interests and through him they hoped to
    satisfy their ambitions on the battlefield and in
    the forums of public debate.

Politics and succession
  • All members of Shakas family enjoyed a higher
    status as a result of his victories. Neither he
    nor Dingane had any children and it was the
    descendents of Mpande who came to form the royal
    family. They formed the superior rank in Zulu
    society in status above even the chiefs, some of
    them also ruled as chief of tribes. Princes of
    the Zulu line and chiefs of other clan lines who
    were princes by royal women were among the more
    powerful chief in the land. They received
    ceremonial deference.
  • Mpande followed the practice of big polygamous
    chiefs and settled his sons in various areas as
    chiefs there. The kings was therefore head by
    descent of the powerful aristocratic Zulu lineage
    which was looked up to by all Zulus and his
    position in the national organisation was
    strengthened since tribes scattered through
    Zululand were ruled by his close relatives who
    were bound to him by strong kinship ties of
    mutual assistance and by their common membership
    of the royal lineage.
  • Marriage between the royal family and families of
    chiefs established similar ties. The king would
    marry off his sisters, a daughter or even some
    girl belonging to him, to a chief and her son (
    who ranked as a prince of the nation) should be
    heir. However, the princes might draw to
    themselves followers beyond those given to them
    by the king and as in the past brothers of tribal
    chiefs had broken away to establish independent
    tribes so the princes within the nation were a
    potential threat to the king. Especially if he

Politics and succession
  • Zulu customs says the king should not eat with
    his brother lest they poison him. His relatives
    on his mothers side and by marriage were said to
    be his strongest supporters for their importance
    in national life came from their relationship to
    him rather than their relationship to the royal
  • The rule of succession is that the heir is born
    of the woman who the king makes his chief wife.
    Mpande first appointed Cetshwayo heir for he was
    born to the wife given to him by Dingwane. Then
    he began to favour Mbuyazi, son of his most
    beloved wife. Each had his own following.
    Cetshwayo was supported by his most important
    brothers and the big chiefs and he routed Mbuyazi.

The Zulu monarch - King Goodwill Zwelethini
  • http//www.knet.co.za/shakaland/Photos.htm

Daily News March 30 2006 at 1121AM
  • Zulu monarch's R40m budget under spotlight   
    Bheko Madlala    
  • Will Zulu monarch King Goodwill Zwelithini be
    asking for almost R40-million to run the royal
    household? That's what members of the Finance
    Portfolio Committee will be wondering when
    officials from the royal household department,
    which is in charge of the King's living expenses,
    appear before them at the provincial parliament
    in Pietermaritzburg on Thursday when the budget
    for the 2006/07 financial year comes under the
    spotlight. The department, which received
    R25-million for the current 2005/06 financial
    year which ends on Friday, came under the
    spotlight towards the end of last year when it
    emerged that its officials had told parliament
    they needed an additional R14,3-million in order
    for the department to meet its financial
    obligations. According to the "wish list" which
    was presented by the head of the department, Dr
    Vusi Shongwe, Zwelithini requested he be provided
    with a top of the range Mercedes Benz and six
    equally impressive Mercedes Benzs for his queens
    at a total cost of R3,537-million to the
    taxpayer. Spare the taxpayers the responsibility
    of paying for the Zulu monarch's expensesIn
    addition, Shongwe told the Finance Portfolio
    Committee that the department needed
    R2,35-million in order to replace its existing
    ageing fleet of cars. He said among the new
    vehicles needed by the department was a four ton
    truck which would be used to transport gifts,
    "invariably live beasts, from the King's
    subjects" to royal palaces, an 18-seater kombi to
    transport members of the Royal family and four
    sedans to provide transport for staff from the
  • http//www.int.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id1click_

Jacob Zuma
Limits on state formation
  • These problems of fission and succession reveal
    the extent to which kinship had not been
    suppressed in favour of territorial and
    bureaucratic office.
  • Ritual and political centralisation occurred. But
  • 1) literacy. Learned men memories but not
    sacred book or priesthood
  • 2) trade. Began with Europeans, British in Natal
    (role of slave trade)
  • 3) not massive accumulation, and therefore no
    monumental architecture. Kings kraal special by
    size not design. Same as other but on a vastly
    bigger scale
  • Disputes in anthropology
  • Conquest or functionality
  • Primary v secondary states
  • Role of trade / symbolic goods
  • Disputes in history
  • Political nature of historical accounts
  • Refer back to questions sources of power and
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