TALKING ABOUT "TRIBE": MOVING FROM STEREOTYPES TO ANALYSIS

BACKGROUND PAPER
(Background Paper 010)
by Chris Lowe, Africa Policy Information Center
with Tunde Brimah, Pearl-Alice Marsh, William Minter, Monde Muyangwa
Washington, DC
November 1997
Publisher: Africa Policy Information Center
8 pages
Type: Pamphlet
Coverage outside Africa: United States
Language: English
The pamphlet says tribe has no coherent meaning; tribe promotes a myth of primitive African timelessness, obscuring history and change; in the modern West, tribe often implies primitive savagery; tribe substitutes a generalized illusion for detailed analysis of particular situations; tribe reflects once widespread but outdated 19th century social theory; social theories of tribes resonated with classical and biblical education; and tribe became a cornerstone idea for European colonial rule in Africa. Contents: What's Wrong With "Tribe?" • CASE IN POINT Zambia • If "Tribe" Is So Useless, Why Is it So Common? • CASE IN PONIT Hutu/Tutsi • But Why Not Use "Tribe?" Answers to Common Arguments • CASE IN POINT Zulu Identity in South Africa • CASE IN POINT The Yoruba People • For Further Reading
Used by permission of Africa Action (successor to the Africa Policy Information Center).
Collection: Ruth Brandon Papers