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Volume :19 Issue : 76 2001      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

The Limitation of Segmentary Lineage Theories: Somalia as an Example

Auther : Ali Al-Zu'abi

For some time now, tribal societies have been analyzed through two theoretical approaches: British functionalism and French structuralism. Although they differ conceptually in their interpretations, both theories emphasize that tribal societies are ranked, socially and politically, according to an ongoing process of lineage segmentation. Therefore, the overall purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the existing literature on Somali society’s segmentary lineage system, and to determine how that data coincides with the more general anthropological approaches to similar segmentary systems. This overall purpose is accomplished through an illustration of the anthropological segmentary lineage theories; an interpretation of the Somali segmentary lineage system; and an examination of whether the Somali segmentary lineage proves or disproves the existing anthropological theories. In conclusion, the author indicates that the function and structure of the Somali segmentary lineage system reflects a major contradiction with the theoretical assumptions provided by both functionalist and structuralist theories. Therefore, the author argues that a new theoretical interpretation for societies based on segmentary lineage system is importantly needed.

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