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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'Divine kings': sex, death and anthropology in inter-war East/Central Africa
Author:Vaughan, MeganISNI
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Geographic term:Zambia
death rites
divine kingship
colonial period
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/40206670
Abstract:The elaborate mortuary rites of the Chitimukulu (the paramount chief of the Bemba people) attracted the attention of both colonial administrators and anthropologists in inter-war Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia). This paper examines the political and symbolic significance of these rites before turning to an analysis of accounts, by the anthropologist Audrey Richards, of the deaths of two 'commoners' in the 1930s. The paper argues that chiefly power resided less in the threat of death which was enacted spectacularly in the Chitimukulu's mortuary rituals than in the promise to create and protect life, located in the practices of quotidian life. This promise of the creation and protection of life was being progressively undermined by the conditions of colonial rule. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]