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Translocal 'Kinship' Relations In Central African Politics Of The 19th Century

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Chapter Summary

Kin-based groups are amongst the oldest informal and formal mutual protection associations known to man. This chapter focuses on the kinship networks operating at the state level in the great Lunda Commonwealth in Central Africa of the nineteenth century. It draws on an unusual source, namely the manuscripts and publications of Henrique Augusto Dias de Carvalho. They cover several thousand pages and provide extensive and detailed reports covering a four-year Portuguese expedition into this region in the mid-1880s. Carvalho's work gives insight into the principles of Central African politics at the time and also demonstrates their specific applications in day-to-day political affairs. Moreover, the political climate at the time was crisis-ridden and the reports paint a gloomy picture of the Lunda Commonwealth just before the dawn of the colonial age as being eroded by Chokwe migrations and internal dynastic conflicts. Finally, the chapter briefly sketches the politics of marriage.

Keywords: Chokwe migration; Henrique Augusto Dias de Carvalho; Lunda Commonwealth; nineteenth century Central African history; politics of marriage; translocal kinship relation



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