By Stephanie Wynne-Jones
A fabric Culture specializes in items in Swahili society throughout the elaboration of an method that sees either humans and issues as stuck up in webs of mutual interplay. It hence presents either a brand new theoretical intervention in many of the key topics in fabric tradition reviews, together with the service provider of gadgets and the methods they have been associated with social identities, in the course of the improvement of the suggestion of a biography of perform.
These theoretical discussions are explored throughout the archaeology of the Swahili, at the Indian Ocean coast of jap Africa. This coast was once domestic to a sequence of "stonetowns" (containing coral structure) from the 9th century advert onwards, of which Kilwa Kisiwani is the main well-known, thought of right here in neighborhood context. those stonetowns have been deeply interested by maritime alternate, performed between a various, Islamic population.
This ebook means that the Swahili are a highly-significant case research for exploration of the connection among items and folks long ago, because the society was once constituted and outlined via a specific fabric environment. additional, it is strongly recommended that this courting was once subtly diversified than in different components, and especially from western versions that dominate winning research. The case is made for an alternate kind of materiality, possibly universal to the broader Indian Ocean global, with an emphasis on redistribution and movement instead of at the accumulation of wealth. The reader will accordingly achieve familiarity with a little-known and engaging tradition, in addition to appreciating the ways in which non-western examples can upload to our theoretical models.
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Additional info for A material culture : consumption and materiality on the coast of precolonial east Africa
Through indexical links to human capacity or artistry, carrying messages about the makers and users, human agency is extended beyond the confines of the individual to become a social force via the objects created and used. Extended personhood gives objects social efficacy in themselves: they are ‘social agents’, in some contexts functioning as the equivalent of persons. It necessitates a move towards seeing the material world as active, participating in the creation of meaning rather than reflecting it.
By viewing the changing repertoire of objects and settings that were entangled with activities on the eastern African coast, it is possible to glimpse the many ways that people lived and were Swahili; the various different types of objects and associated patterns of production and consumption were all bound up into a particular way of being in the world. OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 04/20/2016, SPi Introduction 11 SWAHILI MATERIALITIES A sense of the entangled meanings of activities and the people and objects that are involved in them is of particular relevance to the Swahili coast, which for the precolonial period is known primarily through archaeology.
Excavations at Manda were never as comprehensive as those at other sites have been, and could not really do justice to this unique and extremely rich settlement. In his conclusions, Chittick (1984: 218) pointed out that the area excavated was in no way sufficient to understanding the layout of the town. In fact, the majority of the excavations were focused around the massive sea walls (Chittick 1984: 19–35), which seem to have been built early in the settlement’s history to shore up the spit on which the town was located; although hints of domestic deposits were uncovered on the landward side, the structures that these might have indicated were not investigated.
A material culture : consumption and materiality on the coast of precolonial east Africa by Stephanie Wynne-Jones