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Conference paper Conference paper
Title:Personal Names and the Construction of Social Identities among the Bondei and Giryama
Author:Willis, J.
Notes:Thirty-Seventh Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association
City of publisher:Toronto
Publisher:African Studies Association
Geographic term:Kenya
Discipline:Anthropology & Ethnology
Subjects:Bondei - ethnic group
Giriama - ethnic group
Abstract:This paper is concerned with the taking, giving, and use of personal names, and shows that these processes can be a way of making, accepting and denying claims of identity, and that through this, they can become part of the remaking of the nature and bounds of constructs of identity. The paper examines these processes in two societies in the local hinterland of the Kenya coast during the 19th century, Bonde (or Bondei) and Giryama. These societies followed superficially similar practices in the giving of names; yet these similarities masked enormous differences. In Bonde, personal names have been a tool in the negotiation of identity. Personal names have actually been used to subvert or challenge the power of individual elder males, and their use in this way has redefined identity. In Giryama, personal names have served more clearly as markers, as an expression of the power of elder males. Names here have evidenced a much more restricted process of negotiation of identity.