Helander, Bernhard. The slaughtered camel: coping with fictitious descent among the Hubeer of southern Somalia

Table of Contents

Publication Information

1. Introduction

Ethnographic Background

The Hubeer And The Southern Somali

Historical Background

Political Background

Agro-pastoral Subsistence

Heterogeneity And Clanship

Adopted Members

The Slaughtered Camel

Previous Research

Theoretical Background

Segmentary Lineage Systems

Descent As Recruitment

Descent As Representation

Segmentary Systems As Culturally Variable

Representation, Culture And Interpretation

Field Work


Dialogues And Women





2. Lineage And Locality: Two Principles In Hubeer Social Organization

A Descent View Of Southern Somalia

Territorial Links Through Time

Ethno-ecological Zones

The Lineage System

The Unity Of The Clan In Relation To Adopted Members

Marriage, Lineage And Locality

A Village View Of Ooflaawe

The Framework Of Non-agnatic Interaction

Agnates In The Local Community

Networks And Associations

Investing Prestige



3. Death And The End Of Society: Official Ideology And Ritual Communication In The Hubeer Funeral

Clanship And The Official Ideology

Family Relations And Attitudes

The Local Community And The Unofficial Ideology

The Funeral




4. Individual Capacity As Experience And Mysticism: Reflections On The Somali Concept Burji

An Outline Of The Argument

Burji And Experiences Of Interaction

Burji And The Ideology Of Patrilineal Descent

Burji As Secret Knowledge



5. Incorporating The Unknown: The Power Of Medicine

Medical Trees

Religious Healing

The Medicine Of Strangers



Ethnomedical Implications

The Unknown


6. Hierarchy And Value: Gender Metaphors Of Differential Power

Male And Female

Male Numerical Strength

Agnation And Adoption

Generation Distinctions

Classification Of Leaders

Nobles And Commoners


Curses And Complementarity

The Construction Of Descent

Commoners And The Threats To Descent

Conclusions And Discussion


7. The Politics Of Interpretation: Metaphors Of Hierarchy Reconsidered

A Summary Of The Noble Version

The Commoners’ Objections

A Poetic Combat Between Nobles And Commoners

The Text

1. Noble 1:

2. Commoner 1:

3. Commoner 2:

4. Noble 2:

5. Commoner 3:

6. Commoner 1 (?):

7. Commoner 2:

8. Noble 2:

9. Commoner 2:

10. Stranger:

11. Commoner 1:

12. Commoner 4:

13. Noble 1:

14. Commoner 3:

15. Noble 1:

16. Commoner 1:

17. Noble 1:

18. Commoner 2:

19. Noble 1:

20. Commoner 4:

21. Noble 1:

22. Noble 1:

23. Commoner 2:

24. Commoner 4:

25. Noble 1:

26. Commoner 1:

27. Noble 1:

28. Commoner 1:

A Summary



8. Summary And Conclusions

Non-agnatic Relations And Problems Of Filiation

Reproducing Locality Ties

The Individual And The Agnatic

The Unknown And Strangers

Value And Metaphor

Nobles And Commoners

Positional Interpretations

Coping With Deviation

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

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: The slaughtered camel: coping with fictitious descent among the Hubeer of southern Somalia

Published By: Original publisher [Uppsala, Sweden]: University of Uppsala, Department of Anthropology. 1988. 9, 211 p. ill., map

By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication by Bernhard Helander

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 1997. Computer File

Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Somali (MO04)

Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF Gender status (562); Lineages (613); Clans (614); Magical and mental therapy (755); Burial practices and funerals (764); Ideas about nature and people (820);

Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document This is a study of the Hubeer clan of the Ooflaawe region of southern Somalia. This group traces its genealogical origins back in history to the Samaale cluster of clans, but they are considered as belonging to the Rahanweyn branch of the Somali nation. Helander's focus in this work is on the consequences of the fiction of descent. 'Fictitious descent constitutes both a cognitive problem for individuals and an ideological problem for the society at large' (p. 2). This document explores the ways in which the Hubeer cope with these problems. Topics given particular attention in this work are social organization, class structure, funerary rites, the concept of BURJI (beliefs and knowledge of individual character and capacity), medicine, attitudes toward strangers and their adoption into southern Somali descent groups, gender metaphors, and sex status, (particularly concepts of masculinity and femininity).

Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 32

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. mo04-032

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

Language: Language that the document is written in English

Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- Uppsala University, 1988 Includes bibliographical references (p. 200-211)

Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document 1983-1985

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 Ethnologist-5

Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. John Beierle ; 1995

Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). 1983-1985

Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site) Hubeer clan: Ooflaawe region, southern Somalia, Somali Democratic Republic

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Somalis


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