By Stephanie Wynne-Jones
A fabric Culture specializes in items in Swahili society throughout the elaboration of an method that sees either humans and issues as stuck up in webs of mutual interplay. It hence offers either a brand new theoretical intervention in a number of the key subject matters in fabric tradition reviews, together with the enterprise of gadgets and the methods they have been associated with social identities, in the course of the improvement of the inspiration of a biography of perform.
These theoretical discussions are explored during the archaeology of the Swahili, at the Indian Ocean coast of jap Africa. This coast used to be domestic to a sequence of "stonetowns" (containing coral structure) from the 9th century advert onwards, of which Kilwa Kisiwani is the main recognized, thought of the following in local context. those stonetowns have been deeply curious about maritime alternate, performed between a various, Islamic population.
This publication means that the Swahili are a highly-significant case examine for exploration of the connection among gadgets and other people long ago, because the society was once constituted and outlined via a specific fabric surroundings. additional, it is strongly recommended that this courting was once subtly diverse than in different components, and especially from western types that dominate triumphing research. The case is made for another kind of materiality, possibly universal to the broader Indian Ocean global, with an emphasis on redistribution and flow instead of at the accumulation of wealth. The reader will consequently achieve familiarity with a little-known and engaging tradition, in addition to appreciating the ways in which non-western examples can upload to our theoretical models.
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Additional resources for A material culture : consumption and materiality on the coast of precolonial east Africa
Key aspects of LaViolette’s argument focus around coastal engagements with the material, in particular the active appropriation and incorporation into local practice of exotic material culture, and the importance of the urban settings within which these practices occurred. This leads us to a route in which the Swahili world is defined in an ongoing sense by interactions with the material world, the notion that is developed throughout this volume. OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 04/20/2016, SPi 14 A Material Culture CHRONOLO GY The development of an urban, Islamic, trading society on the coast of eastern Africa occurred according to a remarkably similar timescale across a huge geographical area.
This model of urban evolution, with a gradual increase in foreign trade accompanying the development of the urban environment through coral architecture, typifies our understanding of the Swahili coast, as well as providing a baseline for exploring the associated material record, and more nuanced projects follow in its wake. 2; Chittick 1974: 174–95). 1), although excavations in and around most of the main stone-built structures ensured at least a fair spread of information and a deep and complex stratigraphy.
4). The unparalleled sequence at Shanga allowed Swahili architecture as an evolving material phenomenon to be studied. The setting of the fifteenth-century stone town was seen to have developed from the slow coalescence of architectural expertise, engagement with the Indian Ocean world, and the conversion to Islam that allowed a more cohesive Swahili identity (Horton 1991, 2004b). The key contribution of this work is often located in its championing of an African origin for the townspeople; the local roots seen in the earliest phases of the town were demonstrably those of the later Swahili, not an earlier occupation supplanted by immigrants from the Islamic world.