Bay, Edna G.. Belief, Legitimacy and the Kpojito: an institutional history of the 'Queen Mother' in precolonial Dahomey

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Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.

Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records

Title: Belief, Legitimacy and the Kpojito: an institutional history of the 'Queen Mother' in precolonial Dahomey

Published in: if part or section of a book or monograph The journal of African history -- Vol. 36, no. 1

Published By: Original publisher The journal of African history -- Vol. 36, no. 1 [London ; New York]: Cambridge University Press. 1995. 1-27 p.

By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication By Edna G. Bay

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 2016. Computer File

Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Fon (FA18)

Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF Form and rules of government (642); Chief executive (643); Status, role, and prestige (554); Gender status (562); Gender roles and issues (890); Social relationships and groups (571); Priesthood (793); Congregations (794); Revelation and divination (787); Luck and chance (777); Cult of the dead (769); Ingroup antagonisms (578); External relations (648); General character of religion (771); Prayers and sacrifices (782); Acculturation and culture contact (177);

Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document This article discerns the history of the office of the kpojito, the female reign-mate to the kings of Dahomey, through an analysis of religious change in Dahomey. It argues that the women who became kpojito in the eighteenth century were central to the efforts of the kings to establish legitimacy and assert control over the kingdom's expanding territory. This office reached its zenith in mid-century when Kpojito Hwanjile and King Tegbesu gained office and effectively ruled in tandem, thereby solidifying an ideological model that persisted to the French occupation of Dahomey in the late 1890s. The model posited a balance of power between male and female, royal and commoner. Subsequently, powerful women of the king's household worked with ambitious princes to build coalitions to seize power at times of royal succession. When their efforts succeeded, the prince was installed as king and the woman as kpojito. By the nineteenth century, princes began to find alternative sources of support in their struggles for the kingship and alternative sources of guidance once enthroned. The royal family became more central in the state as princes and princesses replaced commoners in high offices. Even though alliances between princes and their fathers' wives continued, non-royal women within the palace were more constrained in their ability to wield power and the influence of the kpojito fell into steep decline.

Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 13

Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits. fa18-013

Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs. Journal Article

Language: Language that the document is written in English

Note: Includes bibliographical references

Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document not specified

Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor; 2 - fair; 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent; 4 - excellent secondary data; 5 - excellent primary data Historian-4,5

Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. Teferi Abate Adem

Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). 1720-1890

Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site) Dahomey Kingdom (Benin since 1975)

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Fon (African people)


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