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Violence, Ritual, and Reproduction: Culture and Context in Surma Dueling

Jon G. Abbink
Ethnology
Vol. 38, No. 3 (Summer, 1999), pp. 227-242
DOI: 10.2307/3773815
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3773815
Page Count: 16
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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.
Violence, Ritual, and Reproduction: Culture and Context in Surma Dueling
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Abstract

Through a study of the ceremonial stick-dueling of the Surma people of southern Ethiopia, this article explores the sociocultural context of ritual violence in a small-scale agropastoralist society and its relation to social reproductive concerns. Surma male stick-dueling (sagine), contained by strict rules of procedure, is a form of ritualized violence among Surma themselves, and contrasts sharply with violence against members of non-Surma neighboring groups. Sagine can be interpreted not only as the management of relations between competing territorial sections within Surma society, but also in terms of the connection between sociality and sexuality in Surma life. However, contrary to sociobiological predictions, combat success is neither valued for its own sake nor shows itself to be reproductively advantageous in a statistical sense.

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