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From warrior to wife: cultural transformation in the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia

Freeman, Dena (2002) From warrior to wife: cultural transformation in the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 8 (1). pp. 23-44. ISSN 1359-0987

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-9655.00097


This article focuses on cultural transformation in the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia and seeks to explain the way in which certain initiation rituals have transformed over time. The article begins by considering two structural variants of the initiation ritual that exist in two neighbouring communities, Doko Gembela and Doko Masho, and argues that one is an historical transformation of the other. After comparing the contemporary form of these two variants, the article then moves to consider the macro-level forces of change that have impinged on the two communities over the past two hundred years or so. It then seeks to bring ethnography and history together by considering how the macro-level changes might have been experienced in the interpersonal relations of individuals. It explores the new types of situations that would have arisen and discusses how these new situations would have put strains on particular interpersonal relations, leading in many cases to conflict and dispute. After describing the local methods of conflict resolution, it is shown that on some occasions solutions are found which involve communal decisions to make a small change in cultural practice. In some cases these small changes have a knock-on effect leading to overall structural change. The article ends with a hypothetical reconstruction of the way in which the Doko Masho initiation rituals might have transformed.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © Royal Anthropological Institute 2002
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2016 11:54
Last Modified: 16 May 2024 00:05

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