Anthropologica (New Series) 1997

Amit-Talai, Vered. In Pursuit of Authenticity: Globalization and Nation Building in the Cayman Islands. Anthropologica, 1997. 39(1&2): 53-63.

In the last decade, the Cayman Islands have gone through a period of dramatic and very rapid economic transformation. Cayman moved from a labour-exporting, small-scale maritime economy to a major offshore financial and tourist centre. It was during this time that a number of institutions had been established to preserve, promote and interpret Caymanian heritage and identity. In this article, Amit-Talai argues that the growth of Cayman’s cultural industry has been a direct outcome of its incorporation into the world economy.

Amit-Talai gives some background on the Cayman Islands and explains that between 1863 and 1959, the islands were dependants of Jamaica, but when Jamaica severed its ties with Britain, Cayman opted to remain a British colony. In the 1960’s an introduction of new banking legislation as well as the alleviation of a mosquito problem led to the development of the financial and tourist sectors. Today, the Cayman Islands are ranked as the world’s fifth largest financial centre and many Caymanians who had emigrated elsewhere to seek better economic opportunities, have returned. However, the growth of this economy has also necessitated an increasing dependence on foreign workers. In 1994 an estimated 40.4% of Cayman’s total labour force was comprised of expatriate workers who filled jobs in almost every sector of the Caymanian economy.

It is because of this that the Caymanian people became anxious about the degree to which Cayman was being transformed by external influences. They therefore developed a set of national institutions, such as the Museum and the National Cultural Foundation, which were to interpret and promote Caymanian identity and history. The goal was “preserve” and develop Caymanian culture, “arouse public interest in Caymanian Heritage” as well as increase knowledge, appreciation and respect for their Heritage. The author also explains that in these constructions of Caymanian heritage, there are certain common themes: poverty and hardship as well as the independence, dedication and resilience inspired by this way of life.

Amit-Talai asserts that these constructions have been practices of nation building: the search for distinctiveness, the social boundaries being defined and the effort to legitimate particular hierarchies of power. He concludes that the objective for Cayman is not greater political autonomy, or greater economic autonomy, but rater to provide a cultural and ideological support for Caymanian citizenship. He states that the islands’ nation building is not a rejection of globalization, but rather an attempt to ensure its population’s preferential access to local instances of a global economy on which they depend. These institutions, the author believes, are not only a response to globalization, but also a product of that globalization and the elaboration and growing professionalization of these organizations have been dependant on the expertise of expatriate personnel.


MICHELLE LOWE York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Vered Amit-Talai. In Pursuit of Authenticity: Globalization and Nation Building in the Cayman Islands. 1997. Anthropologica 39(1): 53-63.

One of the general assumptions about the process of globalization is that it involves the erosion of the nation-state. Amit-Talai critiques this assumption in looking at the modern-day perpetuation of nation-building in the Cayman Islands. In this case, nation-building happens for two reasons. First, as a reaction to the large proportion of foreign workers that populate the islands by a group of Cayman elite in order to maintain their status as the propagators of ‘true’ Cayman identity, thereby maintaining control of certain economic sectors; second, in order to draw tourists by articulating an ‘authentic’ local culture. The latter rationale appeals to this same group of national elite, as well as to groups of international investors who, somewhat paradoxically, become architects of Cayman nationality as well.

Amit-Talai succeeds in illustrating the particular forms that globalization can take at the intersection with local political economy, escaping the often empty rhetoric of homogenization, a process that globalization is regularly accused of perpetuating. Amit-Talai’s use of the phrase ‘nation building’, however, seems a bit confused and confusing. Nation-building, as understood historically, is a populist process; it involves the larger population, not just the elite. The elite, arguably, actively involve lower-classes, as membership in the nation provides a convenient excuse for the regulation of the lower classes by the elite-controlled state. The Cayman elite do the opposite – they restrict Cayman identity to themselves, producing Cayman heritage themselves, and, along with wealthy tourists, consuming it themselves as well. There is certainly the construction of “heritage” and local “identity” here, but it is more for the purposes of advertisement than for nation building. Thus, as an example of the nation withstanding the assault of globalization, Amit-Talai’s Cayman Islands seems an insufficient case.


KRIS MEEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Barber, Pauline Gardiner. Transnationalism and the Politics of “Home” for Philippine Domestic Workers. Anthropologica, 1997. XXXIX (1 & 2): 39-52.

Barber’s primary focus is within the sphere of transnational labour migrations specifically dealing with the large-scale gendered labour involving female Filipino domestic workers who work overseas and thus acquire new meanings of the concept of “home”. The principle theoretical frameworks that the author works within are globalization and transnationalism.

Within the scope of globalization and transnationalism, the author sets out to examine and illustrate agency among Filipina overseas workers specifically the spatial effects on cultural politics and identity overseas and on the local (Philippine) level.

To make her point, Barber addresses the topic through dividing the article into four parts. The first section deals with the theoretical concepts of ethnoscapes (a concept that evokes a fluidity of ethnic identity) and transnationalism and applies them to the situation with female Philippine transnational workers. In backing up her main argument, the author draws on the works of two transnational anthropology theorists Roger Rouse and Arjun Appardurai.

The second part outlines Philippine labour migration and gendered qualities that are believed to represent Filipinas. The author looks at politics insofar as the Philippine government’s role in promoting overseas domestic labour and the interplay of constructed female Philippine identity in government policy. The author details the specifics and history of Philippine government policy concerning its citizens working overseas and points out the paradox of migration and transnationalism becoming a new form of Philippine nationalism.

The third section looks at examples of negotiated femininity in Philippine social spaces and how these narratives reflect agency and changes in politics in migrant’s homes. In fleshing out this section, Barber points out the expectations of Philippine women in the Philippines, citing such desired or idealized attributes as being submissive, passive, self-less in relation to males and their families in general. By citing a case example Barber illustrates factors that lead to careers overseas as migrant labourers. These include familial motivation and personal feelings of liberation from the expectations of being a woman in the Philippines, such examples serve to contradict the generalizing theories that suggest Filipinas work abroad for the prime reason of supporting their families out of a sense of duty.

The final part consists of the conclusion and a critical questioning of travel literature. The author uses different vignettes of women’s travel experiences to illustrate the diversity of experiences in the cultural politics of migrant Filipina workers, showing the differing degrees that family obligation and economic necessity influence the decisions made by migrant workers and the different levels of satisfaction with overseas employment. The vignettes are used to illustrate the author’s critique on travel literature and how it accommodates (if at all) the experiences and the concepts of “home” of the women in the vignettes. Barber finally asserts that travel literature is generally void of such content and tends to examine the narrow field of privileged travel at the expense of migrant and refugee narratives. Barber also points out that for migrant Filipina workers, the concept of “home” shifts in relation to globalized experiences.


ALFREDO L FIGUEROA York University (Maggie McDonald).

Clark, Kim A. Globalization Seen from the Margins: Indigenous Ecuadorians and the Politics of Place. Anthropologica, 1997 Vol. 39: 17-26

In this piece, Clark challenges current theories of globalization that de-emphasise the importance of place. Focusing on the processes of economic globalization and debt crisis for the indigenous peoples of Ecuador, Clark’s emphasis on the margins –“globalization from below” – reveals the unexpected consequences of community empowerment and agency.

Clark begins her discussion by outlining the characteristics of economic globalization. Here she describes changes in the global economy in the 70’s and 80’s, highlighting that the mobility of capital, goods, and labour have led to a major crisis for much of the world’s poor.

Next, she provides a more detailed account of globalization in Ecuador. Here her focus is from “above” (examining the state and elite groups), and from the “centre” (the cities) (19). Focussing on effects from globalizing processes such as debt crisis and the reorganization and adjustment of production for international markets, Clark argues that while the elite have profited greatly, the urban majority have experience extreme increases in poverty.

In the final section of the article, Clark shifts her focus in order to explore how indigenous people at the margins of Ecuadorian society are experiencing the effects of economic adjustment. According to Clark, it is this type of globalization “from below” (19), provides a politics of places that emphasises the role of human agency. To explore this idea, in this section Clark focuses on the indigenization and democratization of local powers in the Ecuadorian highlands and the grass-roots development of indigenous intellectuals and leaders (21).

This article is an attempt to challenge and problematize current theories that fail to account for the ways that communities respond to and resist economic globalization. In an era where theory tends to focus on the ethereal quality translocality, the notion of a “politics of place” offers a very concrete way of thinking about the economic and cultural impacts of globalizaton.


EMMA JO AIKEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Lindsay DuBois. Past, Place and Paint: A Neighbourhood Mural Project in Suburban Buenos Aires. Anthropologica 1997 Vol.39 (1-2):7-16.

DuBois attempts to unravel how people attribute meaning to their past experiences scared by memories of violence, alienation and contradiction. Through her creation and involvement in a ‘neighbourhood history workshop’, the author tries to discover how the residents of a working-class Buenos Aires community understand and live with their past. She argues that the adoption of a ‘common sense history’ enables the workshop participants to make sense of their experiences within the neighbourhood. This type of history is the practical knowledge and discussion that runs counter to a society’s stated histories, which one could find in textbooks.

The creation of a community mural becomes the physical manifestation of their workshop discussion themes and it provides them with a canvas on which to rewrite history. This collective effort reflects three periods of the neighbourhood’s recent history: their lives before, during and after military dictatorship in Argentina. One of DuBois’ central arguments is that the mural provides immediacy and visibility to their memories and it empowers the members to recreate a sense of community identity. The mural’s meaning is not explicit; it holds a different message for each passerby. The author suggests that one of its purposes is to educate others on the merits of collective community-based action.

The author acknowledges that at various stages of her workshop and mural work, she encountered criticism from community members. At first glance, her candor and self-doubt make her argument more convincing. She asks herself if the workshop matters and whether it could be considered ‘community-based’ even though most of the individuals involved were non-neighbours. However, when one reads between the lines, she fails to challenge herself on the impact that her position of power could have on the research relationship and her interpretation of events. She does not dig deeply to tease out the meaning that members attribute to what they deem valuable despite the seeming triviality. She glosses over the significance of the two workshop titles. Both of these titles were identical except for the words, ‘historia’ in the first and ‘memoria’ in the second. She points out, “it is not clear to me precisely what significance people accorded to the difference, but they were quite insistent about it” (1997:12). Her lack of curiosity in this situation makes the reader lose confidence in her ability to reach the underlying meaning of the community’s ‘common sense history’. In conclusion, DuBois’ article is clearly written but flaws of interpretation, which make the credibility of her findings questionable, may hamper it.


AMANDA FOLEY University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Galaty, G. John. Grounds for Appeal: Maasai Customary Claims and Conflicts. Anthropologica, 1997. 39(1 and 2): 113-118.

John Galaty of provides an ethnographic account regarding the local and political problems of land claims in Kenya. He provides two brief accounts from the people of Mosiro and Lodariak and their struggles with the privatization of group lands. The article deals with the unjust allocation of land to outsiders. Various groups reside in relatively close proximity to each other; conflicts of land claims and title deeds raise questions of ethnicity and complex identities.

The group Representatives Act stipulates that group lands must be equally divided among registered members. Prior to 1994 Mosiro was in the process of being given away without its members knowing, due to collusion between Ministry officials and the secretary of the land committee in allocation of Mosiro land to outsiders. Rich non-Maasai men and their relatives were introduced to committee members in the efforts of acquiring Maasai land. The author suggests that committee members were heavily bribed hence rich men were able to acquire pieces of land. Illegal title deeds were given and undertaken secretly by the Ministry of land. The article deals with the unjust allocation of land to outsiders. He suggests that with the aid both morally and financially from `Survival International’ in London a bill brought forth to the Kenyan Parliament may help to create a legislative solution to this case. Locals are left with the threat of being dispossessed by outsiders and locally powerful individuals. As is the case in Lodariak where hundreds of absentee title claimants technically own land that they have been forcibly prevented from occupying because their claims are viewed as illegitimate.

The people Purko came to settle in the area after the Keekonyokie had been subdividing their land. One of the problems that the ethnographer encounters and attempts at addressing is the land and identity of the Purko people. Both the Purko and Keekonyokie had previously shared land resources such as spring water that was left undivided. The Purko had begun claiming areas because they believed that the Keekonyokie would seize the land, get a title deed and sell the land that both used. Violence erupts between these groups when the Keekonyokies attempt at moving into the area. Many were killed. The author suggests that illegal title claims from outside investors with the helps of some corrupt government officials have left the people of Maasai in turmoil over land. What was previously thought to be the land of a specific group has now turned these people against one another to fight for what they believe to be theirs. These political and ethnic struggles of land claims are an example of the increasing pervasive system of world relations and outside interests to land ownership in a Third World Nation for various interests. The author stresses that these claims to lands both within the indigenous population themselves and the interests of foreign investors is a deeply embedded struggle of colonial borders and postcolonial interventions such as Structural adjustment policies in national and local policy and practice.

This article was incredibly difficult to comprehend in terms of language and content for those with no prior knowledge of the topic is known.


JESSICA COELHO York University (Maggie McDonald).

Galaty, John G. Grounds for Appeal: Maasai Customary Claims and Conflicts. Anthropologica, 1997. 39(2): 113-118.

In 1994, in Kenya, a conflict arose between two groups, the Ewuaso herders and the Il-murran of Mosiro, over the rights of wells along the border of their land. Significantly, Galaty focuses his attention on the relationship between the micro politics to macro politics. The discussion surrounds the politics of land rights in Kenya and its relation to local and national politics.

The cause of conflict, in this example, exists because the land served as an area of pasture for several different groups. Even in the post-colonial era, this land was held as `crown land’ on behalf of the community and managed through a hierarchical bureaucracy of chiefs and subchiefs, and divided into separate territories and subsections. These sections were divided into group ranches and given to group representatives, according to traditional community occupations, and transformed from trust to the freehold lands, such as Kajiado and Narok. Group ranches, furthermore, were seen as a compromise between crown ownership to private land ownership. Recently, as subdivisions became more frequent (and with the development of important wells, boreholes and dams) the Ewuaso territory has come under dispute. Amidst this struggle is the conflict between registered members of the land and outsider interest over land claims, and the tension between land laws and customary claims. The law, under the Group Representatives Act, states that further subdivisions are to be equally split up between registered members. However, endowed with discretionary power from the officers of the Ministry of Land, land committees were put in charge of further divisions.

A scandal unveiled in June 1994 revealed committee corruption from bribes offered by rich outsiders regarding illegal acquisition of land deeds. Anxious from external and particular internal threats, violence loomed between Maasai groups, instead of between insider and outsider groups. This Maasai example offers insight as to how the local and global intersect. In addition, global pressure for Kenya to implement structural adjustment only sped up the subdivisions of land that instigated the corruption from officials. Often seen more as privatization of land, instead of dissolving of assets, global pressures for democratization only added to the crisis. Two Maasai key figures, a minister from Narok and a corrupt Vice President, emerged as opponents resulting in the demotion of the minister ultimately weakening opposition to the allocation of land rights to outsiders. What is of significance here is the relationship existing between national and international interest, and the localized reinterpretation of these interests. Furthermore, these explicit acts of antagonistic hostilities are representations of a resistance to local opportunism, emerging class division, and postcolonial liberalism in Kenya. Consequently, difficulty emerges in deciphering the growing complexity of seemingly localized events without the understanding and reinterpretation of global politics.


RYAN MYHAL York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Gardiner Barber, Pauline. Transnationalism and the Politics of “Home” for Philippine Domestic Workers. Anthropologica, 1997 Vol. XXXIX (1-2): 39-52.

The author’s concern is the gendered labor migration from the Philippines. Gardiner takes a transnational perspective in examining how the forces of globalization shape the migration pattern of Filipinas as domestic workers abroad. She examines the major processes underlying this migration and discusses how the gender and cultural policies of the Philippines not only sustain, but reinforce this practice. The author argues that capitalism, sex and class all work together both within the Philippines as well as within the country of destination to shape Filipino culture and nationhood.

The article is divided into four areas of discussion. The first part primarily focuses on the theoretical works of Roger Rouse (1995) and Arjun Appadurai (1991) and the latter’s concept of ‘ethnoscapes’. Whereas Appadurai discusses ‘ethnoscapes’ as “tragedies of displacement,” the author focuses on the role of agency in the displacement of the Filipina domestic workers. The second part examines the statistics of Philippine labor migration. There has been a steady increase of Filipinas going abroad to work. This trajectory is caused by support by governmental policies as well as increased demand for imported labor abroad. Thirdly, the author provides information from a survey and several life histories of Filipina domestic workers in the Philippines and Canada about their notions of “home.” Her interviews reveal that going abroad has become a means for self realization for Filipinas and their families. Finally, she argues that existing literature on transnationalism, and travel literature more specifically, inadequately addresses the cultural politics and agency of labor migrants. Gardiner suggests that travel literature needs to examine social dynamics as well as “historically specific modes” in order to avoid reductionism.

I found this article interesting, but confusing. The author tries to cover too many aspects of labor migration and transnationalism in too little space, which results in vague and all-encompassing arguments.


CATHRINE MAGELSSEN University of Toronto (Krystyna Sieciechowicz)

Handler, Richard. In Search of the Folk Society: Nationalism and Folklore Studies in Quebec. Anthropoligica, 1997. XXXIX(1-2): 7-16.

The article details the meaning of a folk society whereby the community in Quebec outlines the various traditions that take place. The question asked is to depict that Quebec is or is not a folk society. The Quebecois have very distinctive identities, is due to the many different cultural traditions (that take place).

The community is joined together by sharing objects of social scientific

scrutiny that we call society and culture. The bonding shared between members of the community is seen as something special and a make up of cultural traits, and ethnographic specimens. As the years continue to progress the traditions and customs change, which then result in change of culture where traditions are no longer preserved. This Nationalist identity is a way of describing the attributes one nation holds. The existence of a nation is merely a depiction of a group whereby differences are recognizable. The community often fears that one day this whole idea of a nation will fail to prevail, and then slowly disappear until vanished.

In taking Robert Redfields’ model of a folk society, it can easily be applied to that society of the Quebec community. “Behaviour in the folk society is traditional, spontaneous, and uncritical” and there is no objectivity and no systematization of knowledge”. This outlines the type of structure taken place in a folk society, and is seen as an ideal type.


STEPHANIE LACONTE York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Holmes, J. Teresa. Contested Kinship and the Dispute of Customary Law In Colonial Kenya. Anthropologica, 1997. 39(1&2): 79-90.

On August 15, 1932, the Ugenya Kager Luo Clan Association of Nayanza Province (UKLCA) in western Kenya sent a petition to the British Governor in regards to the rights to the land of Musanda Region of Nzoia River valley. This petition would not be the first or the last time the Kager clan would petition their rights of the Musanda Valley. British colonial administration responded to the petition, creating an ongoing dispute of 2 major tribal divisions: the Luo clan and the Wanga clan that would later be known as Abaluyia clan.

British administrators had long acknowledged this dispute between clans of the Musanda Valley. As it evolves, this dispute is essentially what carries the notion of customary law in colonial Kenya. Once traditions that relate to community identity as well as land rights were written in court records, and later exposed to the customary model, a new and unchanged body of tradition was created. As officials became involved in administrative and defining traditions and customs, they pushed aside the significance of customs coming from other types of relationships such as affinal relations and non-kinship ties such as friendship. What is significant is the practice that shows the connection between blood and tribal territory by creating patrilineal clan groups that might be in occupation of a specific area. This practice became more frequent as the Kager and Luo began to stake their claims of rights as wuon gweng in this region. Wuon gweng is a term referring to (owner of the land). A striking part of history is how administrators wrote the pre-colonial past of Wanga and Luo clans into provincial and district records as a way to emphasize the natural kin based rights of Wanga to land in this area.

Wanga people are a clan usually referred to as “original” occupants in the Musanda region. The Luo clan is usually described as the invaders. Administrative officials designated the Wanga clan as the owners of the land “landlords”, and the Luo clan were labeled the “tenants”, occupying the land only at the “will” of those with customary rights of possession. There were large numbers of Luo living in the Musanda Valley who were part of the local communities, and claimed residence. As tenants, they were still not able to claim status that allowed them to use established customary laws in regard to land access and political authority. By the 1930s, Luo individuals in the Musanda Valley were continuing the attempt to claim identity for themselves. Colonial records show the Luo clan used the term jodak (meaning ‘people who stay‘) to members or groups that lived in the community who had ties through women in regards to established wuon gweng groups. It is important to note that by the 1930s Kager individuals living in Musanda were often reprimanded by colonial authorities for bringing Luo to live as jodak on their land. Disputing colonial power was an attempt to bring forth a meaning that served to contest and renegotiate what was fixed as customary law.


RICHARD DORIA York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Leach, Belinda. Culture, Globalization and the Politics of Place: Introduction. Anthropologica, 1997. 39(1&2): 3-6.

In her article, Leach is concerned with the consequences of the influence of globalization processes on culture. She questions whether borders are being broken and whether we are approaching global culture. The article addresses how the effects of capitalism extend beyond a nation’s boundaries resulting in the dissemination of capitalist cultural elements on an international level. However, Leach states that it becomes problematic to assume the idea of global culture as it “lacks both gender and class analysis,” however, she realizes that the idea of cultural borders create the illusion that that culture is “frozen”. This claim only perpetuates the concept of otherness.

According to Leach, history creates culture. In doing so, culture is created neither specifically by locals nor by impending outside forces but by a mixture of each. It is through the study of these two histories, along with human agency, that determines the culture of any locale.

Leach uses examples from various articles to illustrate the different forces that may cause cultures to adapt. Three examples are; immigration, place, and traditions. As people immigrate to new nations, they bring with them cultural histories that have influences on the existing culture. The outcome is that a new culture is created based on elements from pre-existing cultures. Elements of place are evolving based on the fact that, through globalization, emphasis is placed on those aspects deemed central rather than marginal and therefore, marginal place diminishes. In some cases, historical cultural traditions have been adapted to accommodate for an influx of foreigners.

The theme of the article stresses that, as a result of globalization, different cultures can no longer be viewed as independent and contained. Although we are still far from experiencing a global homogenous culture, cross cultural elements are being widely diversified resulting in alternate histories and ambiguous cultural borders.


AUSTIN KJORVEN York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Menzies, Charles. Class and Identity on the Margins of Industrial Society: A Breton illustration. Anthropologica, 1997. 39(1,2): 27-38.

Menzies starts off with an introduction to the relations between class and identity and distinguishes each from one another. He defines class as having an objective relationship to the means of production, while identity is established through class and remains unchanged unless the authoritative powers have something to say about it.

Menzies studies the Bigouden region of France where the people later acquire their own culture and identity through protest and struggles for their livelihood. The region was a thriving industrial space before the 1900s, but with the onset of technology came the gradual decline of the fishing industry. This was hard on the workers since the fishing industry was one of the most important aspects of Bigoudennie economy.

New methods were introduced such as sardine fishery and trawl fishery, but these failed. Surplus labour was also introduced and the decreases of jobs were in effect. The working class did not understand the complications of the government system and its rapid emergence of a fresh market fishery in the area to compete in the global market. As fish prices steadily decreased, a welfare state was established and more people found work elsewhere than in the fishery business.

Menzies sees how the Bigouden people have had enough with the government, and especially, the European Union (EU). As protests and demonstrations erupted in the early 1990s, the setbacks only made the Bigouden people stronger and more willing to resist the power. Bigouden’s unrelenting citizens established their own identity through movements and not backing down from what they stood for. They were standing against the larger globalization process and saving their local economies from ruin. This willingness to fight against capitalism and globalization help put the Bigoudenne in a class of their own and gave them what is know today as the Bigoudenne identity.

Menzies concludes with a generalization of how capitalism brings about racial, ethnic and local identities. New sets of identity were established through local people’s

resistance towards class struggle and this has made the Bigouden people who they are and emerging from that, is the Bigoudenne identity.


FIONA TSANG York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Rutherford, Blair. The Power Plays of Identities on Commercial Farms on Zimbabwe: ‘Law and Gender’ in Southern Africa.” Anthropologica, 1997. 39(1&2):105-112.

Rutherford’s main concern involves a critical examination of how external rules and laws shape the construction of identity. Rutherford’s larger intellectual concern consists of an analysis of how laws shape identity; a historical overview of colonialism shapes how the contemporary laws within Zimbabwe construct the identities of the citizens. Basically, he demonstrates how power relations between jural identities depend on laws of the nation-state.

Rutherford demonstrates that the power relations constructed during colonialism due to rigid rules still continues as 4, 500 “White” men, hierarchically superior, work in commercial farms. The data he put forth manifests how wives of these men are constructed as privileged, especially if they are mothers. However, single women and mothers are marginalized as they cannot access basic necessary resources such as decent housing, decent wages and meals. Because of the superior position of the white man due to constructed rules, power relations exist and the gap between those constructed to be subordinate reflect the unfair and constraining rules of external law.


JESSICA TICAR York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Worby, Eric. Eleven Guilty Men from Goredema: Parallel Justice and the Moralities of Local Administration in Northwestern Zimbabwe. Anthropologica, 1997. XXXIX(1&2):71-77.

This article narrates the case of eleven men from Goredema, as a sequence of events that illustrates how divisions of state jurisdiction are produced and situated, and the complex and perhaps problematic nature of state moral authority as it is defined, contested, and ultimately reconciled as an extension of a patriarchal form of society. The contemporary conditions that question and complicate the “legitimacy” and “authenticity” of state moral authority with respect to the case and trial of the eleven men, is, as Eric Worby suggests, embedded within the colonial history of north-western Zimbabwe.

In tracing the colonial history of Zimbabwe, Worby attempts to illustrate several things: namely, the ways in which the moral and social forms of order in Zimbabwe are placed within a specific historical context. Through this illustration, moral authority is viewed in terms of its history, and the consequences of colonialism in postcolonial Zimbabwe, asking the question of how colonial-state rule is transformed and defined under conditions of industrial and political modernity, or simply, how do Zimbabweans come to realize the effects of colonialism in a postcolonial society? Worby argues that this realization is made clear in the function of Goredema as a parallel state within a state. This idea goes beyond the notion of Goredema as a hybrid form of colonial history and postcolonial modernity, it is rather, the creation of an alternative state functioning within the state officially holding sovereign power.

In the case of the eleven men, the exertion of male authority, intercepts the rules of the state. In this sense, the production of state jurisdiction and its implementation collides with the lives of its subjects. For the eleven men, the desire to assert the right to govern moral relations among themselves is not without consequences, as the men are punished and state authority wavers the actions of the men. Yet the impermanence of “official” state authority does little to discourage the objectives of the men as the need to actualize oneself as an active member of society is met with a heavy burden of understanding a complex past, and the need to press onward towards an uncertain future.


JASON LAWRENCE York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Worby, Eric and Blair Rutherford. Law’s Fictions, State Society Relations and the Anthropological Imagination – Pathways Out of Africa: Introduction. Anthropologica, 1997. 39(1-2): 65-70.

By drawing on cases from Eastern and Southern Africa the article demonstrates how law that is introduced by the controling government is being reinterpreted and given different meaning in these societies. The authors argue that the rules established by the state deprive civil society from power and are reconfigured by citizens in order to maintain control over their lives. Anthropologists’ innovative way of representing the relations between the state and society is a key to comparative and historical study of those relations. The purpose of the article is to contribute to this kind of study.

Customary law, as the article states, is a practical fiction created to legitimize the unequal distribution of local power. Because given laws do not reflect common understandings of how things should be governed, people utilize them in order to create a freedom with which affairs could be guided and new identities imagined.

The context of this interaction took place in the emerged state that was deemed essential to economic growth and democracy. As ethnographies have shown, the division between state and society that western concept of state implies does not exist in many African societies. Democracy and economic growth did not occur because of this misconception. Thus, in order to understand the current situation in those countries we are bound to look at how imposed laws are reconstructed by the citizens as a way to use them meaningfully.

The cases in the article show how the innovative way of looking at the topic can shed the new light on the issue. For example, the historical study of conflict in Rwanda indicated that grounds for violence did not rest on the struggle between ethnic groups but were based on political competition and class struggle. It is the antagonism for authority, not the state based laws that constituted the conflict. The purpose of this case is to show how the simplistic portrayals of the conflicts by the media downplay existing problems of interaction between the state and society that should be dealt with. Innovative representation of the matter by anthropologists is what helps to understand the subject better and act accordingly.


JULIA MIKHAYLOVA York University (Maggie MacDonald).