Violence, ritual, and reproduction : culture and context in Surma dueling

TitleViolence, ritual, and reproduction : culture and context in Surma dueling
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
Secondary TitleEthnology
Pagination227 - 242
Date Published1999///
PublisherDepartment of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh
Place PublishedPittsburgh
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsEthiopia, games, southern ethiopia, Suri, violence

Through a study of the ceremonial stick duelling among the Surma of southern Ethiopia, this article explores the sociocultural context of ritual violence in a small-scale agropastoralist society and its relation to social reproductive concerns. Surma male stick duelling ('sagine'), contained by strict rules of procedure, is a form of ritualized violence among Surma themselves, and contrasts sharply with violence against members of non-Surma neighbouring groups. 'Sagine' can be interpreted not only as the management of relations between competing territorial sections within Surma society, but also in terms of the connection between sociality and sexuality in Surma life. However, contrary to sociobiological predictions, combat success is neither valued for its own sake nor does it show itself to be reproductively advantageous in a statistical sense



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