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Hoe-farming and social relations among the Dagara of Northwestern Ghana and Southwestern Burkina Faso


Alexis Bekyane Tengan

This anthropological study of hoe-farming in West Africa outlines the cultural meanings involved in working the land and rearing/raising society. Unlike other studies which usually focus on the kin-group as the basic social unit, this piece of work considers the house society or community as the most appropriate focus by which the Dagara people themselves tend to structure their society and to work out their social relationship including cultural practices of different kinds. With many ethnographic details, the study shows how much the house figure functions as a physical and social institution in Dagara mode of thinking and also in the imagination including the intellectual sphere as an important concept. Therefore, the author sees hoe-farming and the figure of the house as linked themes which have to be jointly studied. Considered as such, the study uses them to outline Dagara mode of thinking about themselves and what they do in terms of social relations.
Contents: Field work and the problem of native anthropology – Spatial categories as personified beings and institutions – Time as social relations – The house-based social system in Africa? – Structure of hoe-farming: ritual practice, mythical imagination and social relations.