A Study Of The Nuer Of Southern Sudan And The American Tribes Of South America Political Power
1969 WordsApr 9, 20178 Pages
What is order? What does it mean to have power? Stateless societies have long fascinated western anthropologists because of how different their political system is. Understanding different forms of power other than the western coercive power helps anthropologists to understand how power creates social order. Through a study of the Nuer of Southern Sudan and the American tribes of South America political power how order is created within stateless societies can be understood. Although these two communities are highly dissimilar they provide contrasting examples of how stateless societies are ordered. By limiting the discussion to these two examples it is hoped that the discussion set forth does not confuse the reader but rather makes clear…show more content…
In Nuerland the tribe is divided into three separate groups. These will be referred to as primary, secondary and tertiary sections. They are all segments of each other as the primary is a segment of a tribe, secondary segment of the primary, and tertiary segment of the secondary (Evens-Prichard, 1940). Members of these segments only regard themselves as a member of that segment in relation to segments of the same kind (Evens-Prichard, 1940). For the Nuer there is always an inconsistency between definitions of your political group as your membership is only determined by your non-membership of other groups (Evens-Prichard, 1940, p. 282). Specifically, in Nuerland, the tribal system is relative. It cannot be described in the terms of a political morphology as their relations are so dynamic.
Similarly, the Nuer segment themselves through a lineage systems. The Nuer clan is a highly segmented system in the same way as the tribal system. The clan is segmented into the maximal lineages which separate in major lineages which go into minimal which turn into minor lineages (Evens-Prichard, 1940, pp. 286-287). Similarly to the tribal system lineages are only distinct groups in relation to each other. Although every Nuer village is related to a lineage this does not mean that members of the lineage are only found within a single localised community. Rather Nuer clans are dispersed throughout many villages and one may find representatives of many clans within a