An analysis of political systems among the Dogon

White, Donald John (1972) An analysis of political systems among the Dogon. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

The objective of this thesis is to discuss and analyze political systems of lineages, villages, and groups of villages among the Dogon of Mali, and the sources of information are published ethnographic reports. The study emphasizes the structures of political systems and the ways in which men attempt to maintain or improve their positions in the structures. In the structures status is accorded ideally on the basis of age, and the oldest man in a group should be the leader. In villages and groups of villages the lineage or village which was established first should have the highest status. Elders direct religious activities, and Dogon ideas about superhuman beings, particularly as expressed in myths, and about elements which compose the individual help to explain relations among men and to support the superior status of the elders. Older men direct most economic action, and elders control the highest-ranking goods and receive priority in distributions of goods. Usually elders or specific "outsiders" intervene in disputes, and a decision should favor the older of two disputants. The most important political officials are priests of cults formed of the groups which they lead. These leaders act as central agents for redistributions of goods within the cults and have nominal control over specific goods and economic processes. Within their groups they have primary responsibility for resolving conflicts. The normative position of elders is challenged by practical difficulties which arise from differing capabilities of men and the weaknesses of old age. In villages and groups of villages sometimes relations between component groups vary from the structural norm.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7250
Item ID: 7250
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [160]-167.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Sociology
Date: 1972
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Mali
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Dogon (African people)

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