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Relocating Maji Maji: The Politics of Alliance and Authority in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, 1870-1918

Jamie Monson
The Journal of African History
Vol. 39, No. 1 (1998), pp. 95-120
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/183331
Page Count: 26
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Relocating Maji Maji: The Politics of Alliance and Authority in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania, 1870-1918
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Abstract

In the memory of older residents of the southern highlands of Tanzania, the term 'Maji Maji' embraces an extended period of conflict and population dispersal. Maji Maji is remembered as a complex of political interactions that extended from the late precolonial period through the rebellion's aftermath. These narratives relocate the history of Maji Maji in the larger context of political alliances and authority in the southern highlands. African leaders had used strategic alliances throughout the nineteenth century to establish mutual obligations for military assistance and trade. As territorial politics expanded after 1860, alliances acquired further importance as leaders sought to establish and protect their emerging authority. When European traders and explorers began to travel into this region, they entered into alliance relationships with local leaders. German missionaries and military authorities continued to pursue alliances during the establishment of colonial rule. This larger context for the study of Maji Maji illuminates the role of ethnicity and gender in the rebellion and its aftermath. The groups which reacted to German rule were not consolidated or bounded entities. Their cohesion was determined by internal tensions of allegiance as well as the external politics of alliance. The experience of conflict in the southern highlands was also gendered. Women were centrally important to the politics of alliance and authority as their labor formed the foundation for the expansion of kinship and agrarian accumulation in the later nineteenth century. The aftermath of Maji Maji was characterized by famine, the result of the 'scorched earth' policy of the German troops. The politics of famine realigned the landscape of authority and alliance in the southern highlands. Mission stations, government headquarters and the settlements of loyalist chiefs became new centers of protection and patronage for dispersed populations.

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