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Gerlach, Luther P. (1960) The social organisation of the Digo of Kenya. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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As a result of Islamic and Western influence, Digo matrilineal social organization has been greatly modified, so that matrilineal patterns co-exist with important patrilineal and bilateral patterns. This dissertation is concerned with the ways in which these various, mutually contradictory, patterns combine to form a stable, multilineal, social organization. The introduction presents the background data necessary to understand this organization. It shows how the Digo were influenced by Islam and the West, and it outlines how Digo unilineal organization was replaced by a multilineal system in which each Digo must develop a complex of mutual security and reciprocal aid associations. The first five chapters are concerned with an exposition of the various categories of kin from which such associations are made, and analyze the forces which support each relationship. These chapters show how to nuclear family expands to form ever larger multilineal kin groups, and illustrates how each group is established and maintained by complex of shared rights and duties. Chapter six deals with the former division of Digo society into generation sets, and shows what effect this former division has had upon the current Digo social organization. Chapter seven discusses the organization of adult men into a political and legal body known as the global ngambi, and it shows how this body, in conjunction with the utsi, or community, functions to regulate some aspects of Digo behaviour. It also shows how relationship of kinship, affinity, and friendship are manifested in legal disputes. Chapter eight presents a detailed survey of Digo patterns of marriage and divorce and a discussion of affinal relationship. It indicates how patterns of marriage and divorce are primarily a function of the Digo desire to establish and maintain rewarding mutual security associations. The final chapter shows how relationships of kinship, affinity and friendship are manifested in magico-medical curing ceremonies, and it suggest that such ceremonies are important to the Digo because they reaffirm, dramatize, and test such relationships.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:12

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