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INTERPRETING RUPTURE IN ORAL MEMORY: THE REGIONAL CONTEXT FOR CHANGES IN WESTERN SERENGETI AGE ORGANIZATION (1850–1895)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 November 2003

JAN BENDER SHETLER
Affiliation:
Goshen College

Abstract

This essay argues that the apparent discrepancies between oral tradition and other kinds of historical evidence in the western Serengeti, Tanzania, result from a rupture in time and space. As people were incorporated into a meta-ethnic region to the east dominated by the Maasai in the last half of the nineteenth century, they created new ways of calculating time and organizing space based on new kinds of age-sets. Within this larger context of widespread disasters the small, unconsolidated western Serengeti ethnic groups that we now know as Nata, Ikoma, Ishenyi and Ngoreme formed their identities. New generational and gender contests of power came into play as western Serengeti peoples responded creatively to the pressures of the late nineteenth century by mobilizing their own internal cultural resources.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

This paper was first presented at the Historical Association of Tanzania Millennium Conference, Survival of a People: Towards a History of the Family and Intergenerational Relations, 27–9 June 2001, University of Dar es Salaam, Department of History. Research was conducted for a 1998 Ph.D. dissertation from the University of Florida, ‘The landscapes of memory: a history of social identity in the western Serengeti’, between 1995 and 1996 in the Mara Region, sponsored by Fulbright IIE and Social Science Research Council grants and with permission for research from the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, sponsored by the History Department of the University of Dar es Salaam. Thanks to Richard Waller, Jamie Monson and John D. Roth for reading and commenting on drafts of the paper.
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INTERPRETING RUPTURE IN ORAL MEMORY: THE REGIONAL CONTEXT FOR CHANGES IN WESTERN SERENGETI AGE ORGANIZATION (1850–1895)
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