Volltext: Zeitschrift für Ethnologie der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde und der Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte, 115.1990

  
  
   
Buchbesprechungen 275 
still living in his or her mother’s tent, thus requiring a transition to an “adult” version from a 
male when he leaves the tent. Nicolaisen’s original schemata give a clearer basis for discussion 
than Casajus’s, for which one is obliged to reconstruct similar diagrams for comparison. The 
weakness of the author’s presentation of data separately according to individualised male or fe- 
male ego is that reciprocal relationships, particularly those between relations of different sexes, 
are not taken into account; an artificial division is introduced into the complete system as it 1s 
used in reality. The observation that the stated marriage preference does not correspond to its 
observed frequency leads him to examine the Kel Ferwan's own criteria, with the conclusion 
that in that context it does represent the optimum choice; he avoids discussion of patrilineage 
and matrilineage as not recognised by his subjects. 
This concern for their own point of view is not so easily recognised in the subsequent exami- 
nation of social behaviour, admirably wide-ranging though it may be. The structural elegance of 
the interpretations offered includes occasional references to legend, but it seems that an assump- 
tion that the polarities are not perceived by the Tuareg precludes any corroboration by reference 
to their own explanations. One is frequently left wondering what they do think. Thus their ob- 
servation, as cited, that the north-south orientation of the tent for marriage is the same as that of 
a tomb is taken as the basis of an equation of marriage with death for the bridegroom, but two 
other associations cited in support of this are questionable: the application of henna to the hands 
and feet of bride and bridegroom and of corpses is, in general Islamic practice, derived from the 
view that both are a form of sacrifice, and the proverbial coupling of a marriage in this world 
with that in the next, elakbrát, refers not so much to death as life after death (“in earth as it is in 
heaven”). If the Tuareg really do make this parallel, then one needs more evidence of an attitude 
outside the usual Muslim terms of reference. Such instances of particularisation from the general 
Muslim tradition to serve local structural interests recur, leading one to question the validity of 
equations some of whose components have a much wider, but unmentioned relevance (as for ex- 
ample the symmetries listed on p. 300). Furthermore the deliberately cumulative construction of 
the book leads the author to recall earlier, tentative conclusions to serve in a later, more elabora- 
ted structure where their tentative nature is forgotten: in the German phrase, he sometimes dis- 
covers Easter eggs that he himself has hidden. His concern for symmetries, furthermore, is al- 
most mathematical, and sometimes seems driven beyond a relationship to reality. 
There are aspects of that reality about which we are left tantalisingly uninformed. Could not 
the mythical accounts of Tuareg origins have been compared with a summary of present ethno- 
historical findings? Could no theological view be adduced for the idea of the kel esuf in relation 
to Muslim doctrines of salvation through obedience, and paradise? It is plain that comment on 
the bel esuf was hard to obtain, but they form one pole of the book, and even a record of a nega- 
tive response would have been preferable to no explanation at all. Possibly the author's vague- 
ness here reflects that of the Tuareg themselves, but it leaves a curiously romantic shadow be- 
hind so many precise structures, reaching to the very end. 
Peter A. Andrews 
Conte, Ed. (Hg.): Macht und Tradition in Westafrika. Franzósische Anthropologie und afri- 
kanische Geschichte. 284 Seiten. Frankfurt, New York: Campus/Paris: Editions de la Maison 
des Sciences de l'Homme 1988. 
Die in diesem Band gesammelten Beitráge sind aus Vortrágen auf einem 1984 in Frankfurt 
veranstalteten Fachtreffen zum Thema ‚Französische anthropologische Perspektiven zur Ge- 
   
   
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
   
   
  
   
   
        

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