Drinking, prestige, and power : alcohol and cultural hegemony in Maji, southern Ethiopia

TitleDrinking, prestige, and power : alcohol and cultural hegemony in Maji, southern Ethiopia
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
EditorD.F. Bryceson
Secondary TitleAlcohol in Africa : mixing business, pleasure, and politics
Pagination161 - 177
Date Published2002///
Place PublishedPortsmouth
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, alcoholic beverages, drinking customs, Ethiopia, Ethnic groups, ethnicity, fieldwork, history, Me'en, politics, social inequality, southern ethiopia, Suri

Alcohol can be used as a theme to belittle, patronize and differentiate people. This happens especially when different kinds of beverages are accorded a different status across social and ethnic groups in society. The case study presented in this chapter highlights cultural aspects of social inequality and ethnic stratification by tracing the ambivalent connections between alcohol, power and cultural dominance in the Maji region of southern Ethiopia, where the author carried out fieldwork in 1995/1996. Maji society's 'drinking situation' reflects the area's history of divergent ethnocultural traditions and exposure of people to State narratives of civilization and governance. Historically, the local people, among them the Dizi, Me'en and Suri, were deemed politically and culturally less civilized by the central State and the northern immigrants. The Suri, as agropastoralist lowlanders, were considered especially coarse in their mannerisms and livelihood pursuits. Alcohol (ab)use is explained by many non-Suri northerners in the neighbouring villages as another example of the Suri's 'backward' social behaviour. This chapter explores the basis of such remarks and what they reveal about hegemonic relations and group prestige. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]

IR handle/ Full text URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1887/9640
Citation Key1978