The Names of the Python: Belonging in East Africa, 900 to 1930 (Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture) (Paperback)
Grounded in Schoenbrun’s skillful mastery of historical linguistics and vernacular texts, The Names of the Python supplements and redirects current debates about ethnicity in ex-colonial Africa and beyond. This timely volume carefully distinguishes past from present and shows the many possibilities that still exist for the creative cultural imagination.
“This brilliant new book offers a deep history of the contingent processes of community over more than a millennium in East Africa. David Schoenbrun has produced a remarkably original non-teleological history of belonging, showing how people continually imagined and produced the very nature of society itself intellectually, morally, and metaphysically.”—Julie Livingston, New York University
“A classic for anyone interested in the long-term roots of group formation in Africa. Schoenbrun’s mastery of linguistic, oral, ethnographic, and archaeological sources provides a deep and wide history of different forms of belonging, including ethnicity, for the Buganda state and its neighbors over the last thousand years.”—Jan Bender Shetler, Goshen College
“Excellent. . . . Convincingly illustrate[s] the cognitive and concrete ways that people around the Inland Sea did groupwork, creating and maintaining social groups at a variety of scales to meet the demands of particular historical moments.”—International Journal of African Historical Studies
“A fascinating and compelling book.”—H-Net Reviews
“Like the mothers, mediums, warriors and spirits plying the Inland Sea, we can all feast on the theoretical and methodological fruits netted by Schoenbrun’s innovative rereading of these well-studied, well-storied histories.”—Canadian Journal of African Studies
“This book is a masterclass in the reconstruction of Africa's deeper past. . . . No one working on Buganda can ignore this book, and all future work on the political, cultural, and social past of the region will need to take account of it. Schoenbrun has deepened and complicated our knowledge of how societies are formed, how belonging evolves, and how numerous layers of community are involved in it, especially once people move across longer distances and are no longer able to meet one another face-to-face.”—The Journal of African History