Slaughtered Camel
Coping with Fictitious Descent Among
the Hubeer of Southern Somalia


By Bernhard Helander
December 2003
Uppsala University Press
ISBN: 91-554-5736-3
261 pages, Illustrated, 6 " x 8 "
$52.50 Paper Original


This study deals with how a group of southern Somali agro-pastoralists, the Hubeer, perceive of their social organization. The Hubeer are organized into segmentary lineages in which patrilineal descent from a common ancestor is a formal criterion for membership. In addition, the Hubeer have adopted alien members on a large scale.

Most such adopted members are fully accommodated within the lineage structure and represented as descendents. The Hubeer regard this as a breach of the formal requirements for lineage membership. Using an analytical perspective grounded in symbolic anthropology, the study accounts for how the Hubeer handle the ideological problems related to the fiction of descent.

Following a first introductory chapter, chapter two outlines the different dimensions of social relations in the Hubeer universe. Chapter three describes how ties of locality and non-agnatic relations are reproduced through funerary rites. The fourth chapter addresses the issue of individual identity in relation to the identity provided by patrilineal descent. Chapter five explores the Hubeer ethno-medical system with particular emphasis on ideas of the alien and foreign. The last two chapters illuminate metaphors used to describe internal hierarchy within the Hubeer clan.

Anthropology
Uppsala Studies in Cultural Anthropology, No. 34

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