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Beer in Africa: Drinking spaces, states and selves by Steven Van Wolputte, Mattia Fumanti

By Steven Van Wolputte, Mattia Fumanti

This quantity on beer in Africa specializes in the making and unmaking of self within the inchoate, darkish, exalted and occasionally provoking context of bars, shebeens and different formal and casual consuming events. Beer in Africa takes the creation and intake of fermented beverages as its element of access to enquire how neighborhood actors take care of the ambivalent and the hazy, and the way this ambiguity stands because the sine qua non of social lifestyles and day-by-day perform.

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Beer in Africa: Drinking spaces, states and selves

This quantity on beer in Africa specializes in the making and unmaking of self within the inchoate, darkish, exalted and occasionally provoking context of bars, shebeens and different formal and casual ingesting events. Beer in Africa takes the creation and intake of fermented beverages as its aspect of access to enquire how neighborhood actors take care of the ambivalent and the hazy, and the way this ambiguity stands because the sine qua non of social existence and day-by-day perform.

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What disturbances occur are invariably in the nature of 'faction fights'" (quoted in Dunn and Robertson, 1973:87). Multiple and conflicting testimonies were more likely to be dismissed as evidence of Africans' venality or obtuseness, however, than examined for the possibility that the homogeneous systems of primordial law and culture which officials had painstakingly pieced together to serve as the basis of the colonial order may never have existed in the first place. In Brong-Ahafo, "it was the conventional wisdom of the administration, apt to be produced without noticeable irony after the recital of the most baroque confusions, that in unravelling disputes about traditional issues, one must 'always be governed by well established Akan custom'" (Dunn and Robertson, 1973:169).

In decentralized societies, such as those of central Kenya or south- 28 HEGEMONY ON A SHOESTRING eastern Nigeria, where colonial administrators were unable to find strong chiefs or hierarchical systems of authority, they created them. In more centralized polities, chiefs who resisted or challenged colonial domination were deposed, and their governments sometimes reorganized as well, to prevent renewed dissent. For example, the British deliberately weakened Asante hegemony after 1896 by signing separate treaties with chiefs and communities formerly subordinate to Kumase and disregarding Kumase's claims to "customary" overlordship (Dunn and Robertson, 1973:13; Lewin, 1978:207).

Oral evidence was gathered informally at first; later, it was gathered more systematically by official commissions of inquiry and by professional anthropologists hired by colonial regimes for the purpose (Hailey, 1957:54-56; further discussion follows). But the search for oral tradition was fraught with difficulties. Like scholars who collect oral history, colonial administrators who set out to gather information on local laws and customs were told multiple, often conflicting stories. Whichever version of customary rights and practices an official chose to believe, people were sure to challenge it-both because the past was in fact complex and changing, and because Africans took advantage of officials' interest in tradition to offer evidence favorable to their own interests.

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