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19 - State Formation in the Sahara and Beyond

from Part IV - Concluding Discussion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2020

Martin Sterry
Affiliation:
University of Durham
David J. Mattingly
Affiliation:
University of Leicester
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Summary

In this concluding chapter we focus on debates about state formation and to what extent it is possible to recognise historical instances of this key process among Saharan societies. Here we make the case for a dynamic Saharan history with frequent episodes of urbanisation and state formation in the past. However, we also emphasise the ephemeral nature of these polities, which challenges more evolutionary models of the rise of towns and states. Towns and states have existed among a range of forms of organisation utilised by Saharan societies, with the balance of power swinging back and forth between sedentary and more mobile lifestyles.

Our exploration of these factors commences with general questions about the definitions and types of towns and states that are detectable in the Trans-Saharan world, coupled with a discussion of the sorts of models that can explain their rise and fall.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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