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Article contents

Rituals of Verification: Indigenous and Imported Accountability in Northern Tanzania

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2011

Abstract

Holding people to account for their actions is a feature of all societies. This article examines two different mechanisms of accountability, both of which are used in the Arumeru District of Tanzania. The first is a form of ritual cursing called ‘breaking a pot'; the second is the local government financial audit. By placing both practices in the same frame the article aims to unsettle the conceptual divide between the rational and the irrational, the modern and traditional, the scientific and the occult. It also asks whether imported forms of local government, such as are represented by Arumeru District Council, might be made responsible via indigenous and indexical mechanisms of accountability, or whether imported institutions are best rendered accountable by ‘universal’ means.

Résumé

Rendre les individus comptables de leurs actions est une caractéristique commune à toutes les sociétés. Cet article examine deux mécanismes de responsabilité utilisés tous deux dans le district d'Arumeru en Tanzanie. Le premier est une forme de malédiction rituelle appelée «casser un pot»; le second est le contrôle financier de l'administration locale. En plaçant ces deux pratiques sur le même plan, l'article entend bouscler le clivage conceptuel entre le rationnel et l'irrationnel, le moderne et le traditionnel, le scientifique et l'occulte. Il demande également s'il est possible de rendre comptables les formes importées d'administration locale, comme celle que représente le Conseil du district d'Arumeru, pas des mécanismes indigènes et indexiques de responsabilité, ou s'il vaut mieux rendre les institutions importées comptables de leurs actes par des moyens «universels».

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © International African Institute 2003

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