Originally published in 1971 this book argues that certain aspects of traditional African social systems have been misunderstood because of a failure to appreciate what is implied by important differences between the technologies of the major traditional African states and those of Europe and Asia. Differences in the modes of agricultural production were connected with differences in other aspects of the social system such as the relations between subjects and chiefs. This means that comparisons with the feudal systems of Western Europe or the monarchies of Asiatic states have definite limitations. Differences in technology not only affected not only the means of production but also of destruction. The importance of differential access to the means of domination is stressed as a critical factor in African political systems. This is an aspect which has been obscured in many studies that have relied largely on material gathered after the establishment of colonial rule.
Table of Contents
1. Feudalism in Africa? 2. Polity and the Means of Production 3. Polity and the Means of Destruction 4. Polity and Ritual: The Opposition of Horse and Earth 5. Conclusions
Sir John Rankine Goody, FBA (27 July 1919 - 16 July 2015) was a British social anthropologist. He was a prominent lecturer at Cambridge University, and was William Wyse Professor of Social Anthropology from 1973 to 1984