Chiefs, Priests, and Praise-Singers
In his new book, the eminent anthropologist Wyatt MacGaffey provides anethnographically enriched history of Dagbon from the fifteenth century to the present, setting thathistory in the context of the regional resources and political culture of northern Ghana. Chiefs, Priests, and Praise-Singers shows how the history commonly assumed byscholars has been shaped by the prejudices of colonial anthropology, the needs of British indirectrule, and local political agency. The book demonstrates, too, how political agency has shaped thekinship system. MacGaffey traces the evolution of chieftaincy as the sources of power changed and asland ceased to be simply the living space of the dependents of a chief and became a commodity and aresource for development. The internal violence in Dagbon that has been a topic of national andinternational concern since 2002 is shown to be a product of the interwoven values of tradition,modern Ghanaian politics, modern education, and economic opportunism.
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