What Is a Tribe and Why Does It Matter?

in The Culture of Islam

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2003 | ISBN: 9780226726137
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226726144 | DOI:
What Is a Tribe and Why Does It Matter?

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This chapter aims to consider some of the theoretical and descriptive difficulties that anthropologists in particular have encountered with the concept of the tribe. It wants to show how we may have gotten to this state of affairs—particularly as it relates to tribes in North Africa (and by analogy to other parts of the Middle East)—and then to suggest, through several distinct metaphors, how we might more fruitfully think of these sociopolitical forms and how such rethinking may assist our understanding of the modern-day states with which they are both intertwined and, in some cases, constitutive.

Keywords: tribe; North Africa; sociopolitical forms; modern states; Middle East; anthropological work

Chapter.  7622 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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