1st Edition

The Dynamics of Clanship Among the Tallensi Being the First Part of an Analysis of the Social Structure of a Trans-Volta Tribe

By Meyer Fortes Copyright 1945
    310 Pages
    by Routledge

    310 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Originally published in 1945, this book analyses Tale social structure at the level of corporate group organization. Tale culture is discussed primarily as the content of social relations and not in its own right. Customs, beliefs, conventional usages, religious values are examined as indices of social relations. Although not a comparative study, it is clear that many features of Tale social organization are typical of patrilineal societies in West Africa and some Tale institutions have parallels in South, East, and Central Africa. Field work showed that every significant social activity among the Tallensi is tied up with the lineage system and the book therefore investigates the function of lineage in Tale social organization.

    1. Introductory

    2. The Meaning of 'Tallensi'

    3. Paradigm of the Lineage System

    4. Clanship: The Namoos

    5. The Distribution of the Namoos

    6. The Structural Relations of the Talis

    7. Clanship and Ritual Collaboration

    8. Totemism Among the Talis and Other non-Namoos

    9. The Place of Women in the Clan Organization

    10. The Social Structure of a Settlement

    11. Land, Locality and the Earth

    12. The Lineage in the Local Community

    13. The Form of Tale Society


    Meyer Fortes was a South African-born anthropologist, best known for his work among the Tallensi and Ashanti in Ghana. Originally trained in psychology, Fortes employed the notion of the "person" into his structural-functional analyses of kinship, the family, and ancestor worship setting a standard for studies on African social organization. His famous book, Oedipus and Job in West African Religion (1959), fused his two interests and set a standard for comparative ethnology. He also wrote extensively on issues of the first born, kingship, and divination.