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The Sacred Void
Spatial Images of Work and Ritual among the Giriama of Kenya

£31.99

Part of Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology

  • Date Published: March 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521024983

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About the Authors
  • In this innovative study, David Parkin shows how indigenous African rites and beliefs may be reworked to accommodate a variety of economic systems, new spatial and ecological relations between communities, and the locally variable influences of Islam and Christianity. The Giriama people of Kenya include pastoralists living in the hinterland; farmers, who work land closer to the coast; and migrants, who earn money as labourers or fishermen on the coast itself. Wherever they live, they revere an ancient and formerly fortified capital, located in the pastoralist hinterland, which few of them ever see or visit. Their different perspectives sometimes conflict, but together provide a shifting idea of the sacred place. As the site of occasional large-scale ceremonies, moreover, the settlement becomes especially important at times of national crisis. It then acts as a moral core of Giriama society, and a symbolic defence against total domination and assimilation.

    • David Parkin is professor of African anthropology at SOAS and probably the leading African ethnographer in the UK. He is widely respected for his long record of East African ethnography
    • Important, innovative study on the big theme of ritual
    • Parkin moves away from the idea that ritual simply unites a society showing how it provides a geographical map of sacred places around which people organize their minds and give meaning to their daily lives
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Parkin's knowledge of East African societies is second to none … As with his previous works, it contributes significantly to our understanding of the complexities of change in modern Africa.' Man

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521024983
    • length: 284 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 150 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.43kg
    • contains: 5 b/w illus. 2 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface
    Introduction
    1. Fantasies of the West
    2. Western Kaya, sacred centre
    3. View from the west: cattle and co-operation
    4. From west to east: the works of marriage
    5. Spanning west and east: dances of death
    6. Alternative authorities: incest and fertility
    7. Alternative selves: invasions and cure
    8. Coastal desires and the person as centre
    Conclusion
    Appendices
    Bibliography
    Index.

  • Author

    David Parkin, University of London

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