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The Social Uses of Swahili Space and Objects

  • Author(s): Donley-Reid, Linda W.
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

The dissertation begins by discussing the field of ethnoarchaeology in general and then specifically in relation to the archaeology of the Afro-Arab or the Swahili sites on the coast of eastern Africa. A more theoretical chapter follows which explores an approach to the study of societies through looking at the process of structuration; i.e. the social uses of spaces, objects and time. The third chapter is devoted to placing my study of the houses located in the Lamu archipelago, within an historical context.

Next is a chapter based on the ethnographic data which I collected in thirty-two houses located in Lamu, Pate and Shela. This material is used to demonstrate ~o w spaces and objects are given social meaning, the process which structures the society. Chapter 5 is a presentation of the comparative ethnographic data which I collected in twenty-one houses in Gujarat (north-western India). This area is linked by Indian Ocean trade to the Swahili settlements in Africa. Archaeological data from the three houses I excavated in the Lamu archipelago are described and analysed in chapters 6-9. The social meaning of archaeological spaces and finds is explained in terms of a direct historical analogy i.e. the ethnographic data. The concluding chapter stresses that the relationships between people, objects and spaces structure

societies. This process, which has been called 'structuration' by A. Giddens, can aid in the understanding of societies in the present and past.

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