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Kinship and Contract in Somali Politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2011

Abstract

Traditional Somali politics was based on two dialectically related principles: kinship and contract (tol iyo xeer). Kinship was founded on the segmentary lineage system under which people traced their descent to common male ancestors. Agnates functioned as corporate political groups because they were blood relatives. But the blood relation was not sufficient to establish a political system. Agnates functioned as corporate political groups because they negotiated a social contract that defined the terms of their collective unity.

Résumé

La politique traditionnelle somalienne reposait sur deux principes dialectale‐ment liés: la parenté et le contrat (tol iyo xeer). La parenté était fondée sur le systéme de lignage segmentaire dans lequel les individus faisaient remonter leur descendance à des ancêtres communs de sexe masculin. Parents par le sang, les agnats formaient des groupes politiques communs. Or, ce lien de sang ne suffisait pas à établir un systéme politique. Les agnats formaient des groupes politiques communs parce qu'ils négociaient un contrat social qui définissait les conditions de leur unité collective.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 2007

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