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Egalitarian Revolution in the Savanna – The Origins of a West African Political System. By Stephen A. Dueppen. Equinox, Sheffield and Bristol CT, 2012, 344 + xiv pp. ISBN 978-1-908049-20-9. £ 75.00 (Hardback).

Egalitarian Revolution in the Savanna – The Origins of a West African Political System. By... Egalitarian Revolution in the Savanna presents an archaeological sequence spanning the second to midfifteenth centuries at Kirikongo, western Burkina Faso, excavated in 2004 and 2005/06. This book aims, however, at being much more than a site report, suggesting that it can recast understandings of political trajectories by documenting an instance where a system involving the exclusionary power of one group was replaced by a community involving diverse individual hierarchies. There is, thus, a strong theoretical bent to the book. The key point is that models of centralisation based upon self-aggrandisement and despotic power may provide a poor explanatory framework for many African social systems, when ethnography has long recognised corporate strategies. This view closely fits recent debates on the nature of African societies (see e.g. Mcintosh 1999), and it finds fertile ground in western Burkina Faso, where ethnographers have documented the existence of complex autonomous villages among the Bwa people, with extensive social differentiation but a strong ethos of egalitarianism: what Capron called (p. 14) `communal projects'. In fact, Maurice Delafosse had characterised the western Voltaic region as primitive and chaotic (pp. 16­17). As such, this western part of the Voltaic region differs greatly from the eastern part, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of African Archaeology Brill

Egalitarian Revolution in the Savanna – The Origins of a West African Political System. By Stephen A. Dueppen. Equinox, Sheffield and Bristol CT, 2012, 344 + xiv pp. ISBN 978-1-908049-20-9. £ 75.00 (Hardback).

Journal of African Archaeology , Volume 11 (1): 111 – Oct 25, 2013

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Copyright 2013 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1612-1651
eISSN
2191-5784
DOI
10.3213/2191-5784-10225
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Egalitarian Revolution in the Savanna presents an archaeological sequence spanning the second to midfifteenth centuries at Kirikongo, western Burkina Faso, excavated in 2004 and 2005/06. This book aims, however, at being much more than a site report, suggesting that it can recast understandings of political trajectories by documenting an instance where a system involving the exclusionary power of one group was replaced by a community involving diverse individual hierarchies. There is, thus, a strong theoretical bent to the book. The key point is that models of centralisation based upon self-aggrandisement and despotic power may provide a poor explanatory framework for many African social systems, when ethnography has long recognised corporate strategies. This view closely fits recent debates on the nature of African societies (see e.g. Mcintosh 1999), and it finds fertile ground in western Burkina Faso, where ethnographers have documented the existence of complex autonomous villages among the Bwa people, with extensive social differentiation but a strong ethos of egalitarianism: what Capron called (p. 14) `communal projects'. In fact, Maurice Delafosse had characterised the western Voltaic region as primitive and chaotic (pp. 16­17). As such, this western part of the Voltaic region differs greatly from the eastern part,

Journal

Journal of African ArchaeologyBrill

Published: Oct 25, 2013

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