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Warfare, Political Leadership, and State Formation: The Case of the Zulu Kingdom, 1808-1879

Mathieu Deflem
Ethnology
Vol. 38, No. 4 (Autumn, 1999), pp. 371-391
DOI: 10.2307/3773913
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3773913
Page Count: 21
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Warfare, Political Leadership, and State Formation: The Case of the Zulu Kingdom, 1808-1879
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Abstract

The origin and evolution of the nineteenth-century Zulu Kingdom are used to examine two competing state formation theories: Robert Carneiro's circumscription theory and Elman Service's theory of institutionalized leadership. Both theories partly clarify Zulu political developments: Carneiro's explains the origin and territorial expansion of the Zulu empire, while Service's can account for the beginning differentiation of political roles in the Zulu state. Two alternative explanations of the causes of Zulu state formation are discussed to integrate the diverging theoretical perspectives of Carneiro and Service. First, the role of the Zulu king, Shaka, should be considered politically relevant only inasmuch as Shaka's wars of conquest were instrumental for the unification of the Zulu Kingdom. Second, further developments in Zulu politics involved limited structural change from dispersed tribes to a unified military state. The analysis of political formations, including their origin and further transformation, should not be conducted in unilinear evolutionary terms, but from a multidimensional processual perspective.

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