Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 25

The Local in the Local: Models of Time and Space in Samburu District, Northern Kenya Author(s): JonHoltzman Source:

Current Anthropology, Vol. 45, No. 1 (February 2004), pp. 61-84 Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of Wenner-Gren Foundation for
Anthropological Research

Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/379635 . Accessed: 10/02/2014 08:56

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp

JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

The University of Chicago Press and Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Current Anthropology.


This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

C u r r e n t A n t h r o p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

2004 by The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. All rights reserved 0011-3204/2004/4501-0003$3.00

The Local in the Local

Models of Time and Space in Samburu District, Northern Kenya1 by Jon Holtzman

Viewing the global in the local has become an increasingly central approach in recent anthropology as anthropologists have sought to explicate the ethnographic correlates of globalization. While this approach has produced some of the most important work in recent anthropology, it rests upon long-standing Western notions of space and time that dichotomize here and there principally by reference to capitalism and the state. Through an examination of transformed geographical models of and about Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya, it is argued here that this model is itself a global export and that a consideration of Samburu instantiations of ithow and why Samburu have adopted it, what they use it for, and the assumptions that they have adopted in the processserves to reect aspects of anthropologists own cultural constructions of the local. Recognizing the Western folk elements in global-local models of time and space destabilizes discourses of globalization as a transcultural historical process through an acknowledgment of the cultural specicity through which we situate our own analyses. j o n h o l t z m a n is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Director of Global and International Studies at Western Michigan University (116 Moore Hall, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, U.S.A. [jon.holtzman@wmich.edu]). Born in 1965, he was educated at Haverford College (B.A., 1987) and the University of Michigan (M.A., 1989; Ph.D., 1996). His publications include The Food of Elders, the Ration of Women: Brewing, Gender, and Domestic Processes among the Samburu of Northern Kenya (American Anthropologist 103:104158), Politics and Gastropolitics: Gender and the Power of Food in Two African Pastoralist Societies (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 8:25978), and In a Cup of Tea: Commodities and History among Samburu Pastoralists in Northern Kenya (American Ethnologist 30: 13655). The present paper was submitted 29 vi 02 and accepted 13 iii 03.

1. Funding for this research was provided by a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant (199294) and Grant for Senior Research (20012), the Horace Rackham School of Graduate Studies, the Center for African and Afro-American Studies, and the Population-Environmental Dynamics Program. Conrad Kottak, Rosario Montoya, Raymond Kelly, Bilinda Straight, Katherine Zirbel, Tom Fricke, Sarah Hill, and anonymous reviewers have generously provided comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

One day I was walking in Lodokejek with Benson, my Samburu research assistant, when he mentioned a humorous incident he had observed on a recent trip to Nairobi. A man on his bus was reading the Daily Nation, despite knowing virtually no English. He sat there, looking quite seriously at the English-language newspaper, but could not decipher a word. I had myself observed that, although many Kenyans are much more uent in Kiswahili than in English, very few read Taifa Leo, the Kiswahili version of the newspaper. Why, I asked Benson, do people not simply read Taifa Leo if they dont understand much English? He replied in a slightly surprised tone, which implied that I had suggested some rather unseemly behavior: They could not be seen reading Taifa Leo, he explained, for if they did people would think they are very local. In this essay I consider local readings of the local with reference to their manifestations in Kenyan national culture and, more important, in the transformed spatial models of Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya. I do so in explicit concordance with recent anthropological concerns to view the global through the local (e.g., Miller 1995) but also in implicit critique of the fundamental underpinnings of this approach. Recasting Tsings (2000) recent call for examination of varying folk models of the global in order to avoid the assumption that globalization is a transcultural historical process, I suggest, conversely, the need to look to the Western folk elements in our own renderings of the local in analyses of global processes. Thus, if a Samburu instantiation of the local speaks at one level to the ubiquity of global processes in even the most out-of-theway places, a consideration of how Samburu have adopted this model, what they use it for, and the assumptions they have adopted in the process serves to reect aspects of anthropologists own cultural constructions of the local that we have not yet fully come to terms with in our analyses. Though recognizing the improvements of recent global anthropology over earlier efforts to situate the anthropological subject within broader cultural, political, and economic ows (e.g., modernization theory, world-systems theory) I argue that there remains a deeply embedded conception of localness that is derived fundamentally from a long-standing Western folk model dichotomizing here and therethe country and the city, the periphery and the core, the colony and the metropole, the provincial and the cosmopolitan (Williams 1973; see also Gupta and Ferguson 1997). Through a fusion of the spatial, social, and temporal, these folk models create here-there dichotomies that encode space through the relation of places and their peoples to regional, national, and global centersculturally and politically, but most importantly as nodes of capitalism. I argue that recognizing the folk elements inherent in our own models pushes us to rethink globalization, ethnographically and theoretically, in a number of related ways. Most directly, the time-space relationships entailed in these Western folk models are themselves an important and long-standing global export. Seen in this light, it is therefore not 61

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

62 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

so surprising that while the concept of the local has become central to anthropological analysis only since the 1990s, it has enjoyed widespread currency in Kenya for at least four decades, with a meaning not dissimilar to its current scholarly usage. Thus, even in a fairly remote area of northern Kenya, Samburu now encode both their relationship to the Kenyan state and the divisions among themselves through here-there spatial dichotomies that fuse time and space to the processes of capitalism. Notably, these bear no resemblance to autochthonous Samburu geographies (facets of which remain salient to the present), which are very weakly tied to social categories and contain no element of temporal hierarchy. The adoption of this type of geographical model does not simply provide a new set of interpretations for Samburu to ascribe to space but constructs new places and new kinds of places through geographical subjectivities oriented by capitalism and the state. In this way, I suggest, the subjective and relative manifestations of the local in specic local contexts have important commonalities with anthropological analyses built on the architecture of global-local relations. I bring to this argument a concern that, from the standpoint of anthropological analysis, a geographical model predicated on the globalization of local places has frequently become a meta-narrative (Englund and Leach 2000) that pregures both the form and the content of our analysesa tendency which is only strengthened by the conceit of universality and encompassment implied by the very notion of the global. I agree that global-local models, though subjective and analytically particular lenses, are useful for understanding certain kinds of processes, but I am concerned that they have been put to uses that are not only too broad but at times in direct counterpoint to the conceptual work they do best. While the local has frequently been turned to, by anthropologists and others, as a site in which to seek new and continuing patterns of diversity in an increasingly globalized world, the local conceived (whether intentionally or implicitly) as a spatial-social-temporal conguration in opposition to global, cosmopolitan forces may be a particularly murky device for this purpose. Not only is this endeavor problematic conceptually insofar as the form and indices of diversity are pregured by Western understandings of what it means to be local (i.e., not global) but often even these local places themselves have, rather concretely, been formed by colonial and postcolonial global processes. In this way, I suggest, the local may be seen as a largely Western-centered lens for examining those aspects of our ethnographic settings that are in many ways the most directly oriented toward capitalism and the state.

Models of the Global-Local Dichotomy

Since the 1990s, questions of globalization have arguably become the central focus of anthropological analyses. Building on foundations laid out by earlier world-sys-

tems analyses (esp. Wolf 1982) that sought to place the anthropological subject within global capitalismas well as the empirical acknowledgment that the lives of formerly remote peoples are increasingly shaped by contemporary cultural and economic transnational linkagesissues related to globalization have increasingly become the dominant focus of recent anthropology. Scholars have reacted to the increasing salience of transnational processes in a variety of ways. While some have identied this as a crisis in anthropology, others have looked optimistically toward multisited, delocalized eldwork as a way of adjusting to these developments. While some have seen globalization as leading to an unmitigated decline in cultural diversity, others have looked to the ways in which processes of globalization have themselves produced new forms of local culture. Indeed, among the dominant trends in contemporary anthropology is to retain largely traditional anthropological eld sitesremote, rural, and non-Westernwhile seeking to use these sites as a lens for understanding global political, economic, and cultural forces through particular local forms of modernityin short, looking at the global in the local (e.g., Miller 1995). Although it is somewhat ironic that an increasing interest in global forces has pushed notions of the local more than ever to the forefront of anthropological analyses, this development is perhaps less than surprising when one considers the long-standing place of the local in debates concerning modernity. As Dirlik (1997: 96) notes, modernist teleology branded the local as an enclave of backwardness while antimodernists rendered the local a refuge from the ravages of modernity.2 Within recent anthropological concerns with globalization and modernity, then, the localfar from being diminishedhas been transformed from an odd-job spatial designation to a key (if less than thoroughly examined) analytical construct. A great deal of scholarly energy, for instance, has been devoted to showing that the local is not and never was the bounded and homogeneous entity it was frequently assumed to be in traditional anthropological approaches (Appadurai 1988, Gupta and Ferguson 1997, Wolf 1982, Piot 1999, Clifford 1994). At the same time, there has been new attention to the ways in which communities construct the structure of feeling (Williams 1977) associated with locality, particularly in the context of rapidly increasing ows of people, goods, and ideas (Appadurai 1996, Bigenho 1999, Thomas 2002, Moore 1999, Rafes 1999). Much less energy has, however, been invested in considering the usefulness of the local as an analytical construct. Indeed, the local has frequently been invoked more or less as a seemingly innocuous stand-in for culture. If, in recognition that cultures are neither homogeneous nor bounded, we can no longer talk about what the Trobrianders do or the Nuer think,
2. Notable here is Guptas (1998) discussion of the opposition between traditional (the absence of global knowledge) and indigenous (the presence of local knowledge [e.g., Geertz 1983] or the tourist-guide promise to help you go where the locals go).

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 63

at least we can talk about what particular people are doing or saying in particular places at particular times. This is an understandable movewe have to, after all, refer to our subject matter as somethingbut it suggests that the places upon which we now center our analyses are less an analytical abstraction than cultures were. In much recent analysis the local has become a largely unexamined twin of what Rafes (1999) has termed its more glamorous sibling, the global, and has been cast sometimes intentionally, sometimes less soas not simply a particular place but a particular kind of place. This is especially problematic because in dening the local in opposition to the global we pregure what it means to be local and what processes we seek to examine and situate locally. Thus, as Tsing (2000) notes, in most approaches to globalization the local is in New Guinea and not New York. Piot (1999) and others (Tsing 1993, Mintz 1998) have similarly noted that aspects of a postmodern, globalized world (e.g., time-space compression, widespread ows of people and culture) are implicitly or explicitly predicated on the analytical construction of a bounded local community as a necessary contrast to the postmodern rupture. Thus, while recognizing the contributions of the approach of viewing the global through the local, I suggest that it is important to consider the ways in which it can at times inadvertently recapitulate problematic dichotomies. Gupta and Ferguson (1997:28), for example, point to the extent to which ideas of the local and the global in practice tend to replicate existing dualisms opposing tradition to modernity, cold societies to hot ones, or Gemeinschaft to Gesellschaft. In this way, the local can take the place of the traditional, globalization can take the place of modernization, and a new transnational anthropology can wind up bearing a disturbing resemblance to a sort of recycled modernization theory. Certainly contemporary approaches to globalization are not modernization theory warmed-over, but it is important to consider what these views share and why. Most centrally, I suggest, they both draw on popular Western models fusing geography and history that predate all these scholarly approaches by centuries. Such models dichotomize center and periphery, the cosmopolitan and the provincial, or, as in Raymond Williamss (1973) now classic analysis, the country and the city. In Williamss view the colony-metropole dichotomy (now global-local) is simply a more recent rendering of this long-standing folk model of here and there, of the provincial countryside and the cosmopolitan city. There are, of course, important differences both among these folk models and between them and their various scholarly renderings (see Tsing 2000 and Kearney 1995 for reviews). My objective, however, is not to explore the complexity and variety of approaches to local-global issues but to consider the central dening features of the intellectual terrain upon which these models are built.

I suggest that because scholarly and folk renderings of here-there spatial dichotomies derive from a common source in Western popular culture they share certain formal features, albeit appearing sometimes in the positive and sometimes in their mirror-image form. Specically, they map time onto space, most importantly through the ows of commodities and associated practices. Space is encoded, most centrally, through the relation of places and their peoples to regional, national, and global centers culturally and politically but most importantly as loci of capitalism. I suggest that an important outcome of globalization is the spread of this model itselfthat dichotomous notions of global-local, town-country, etc., are themselves an important export in the spread of world capitalism. To suggest that aspects of the global-local approach are derived from a long-standing Western folk model is not a criticism per se. The strength of this approach is amply demonstrated by the contributions of its practitioners, and certainly one of its most important contributions may be to counter assumptions concerning the relationship of geography and history even as it of necessity employs that idiom. (In some ways my argument here also employs that idiom, in seeking to understand how the folk models of capitalism itself have come to be interpreted locally in the context of globalization.) At the same time, I suggest that recognizing its folk elements to some extent destabilizes and denaturalizes the discourse in demonstrating that it derives from a particular cultural point of view rather than from a totalizing, objective, global one. In making my argument, I will elucidate the key features of global-local models as translated within local contexts in Kenya. In doing so, it is necessary rst to identify the formal characteristics of these models. This is in no sense an exhaustive or denitive summary of anthropological approaches to globalization, nor do I suggest that all global-local models conform to this in a straightforward manner. Certainly, the content of varying (scholarly or folk) renderings of the model may differ considerably. Moreover, many approaches explicitly critique these formal aspects, though I suggest that in doing so they reinforce their centrality to the basic model. The following list is only a schematic rendering of the features to look for in examining Kenyan/Samburu renderings of here-there dichotomies. I suggest that these models have three central assumptions: 1. There is a binary relationship between here and there, as in global-local, center-periphery, metropole-colony, city-country, metropolitan-provincial. Many analyses seek to break down these boundaries (e.g., Grewal and Kaplan 1994, Piot 1999), but the analytical space created by these efforts tends to necessitate the retention of these poles as analytical categories (whether or not one concludes that they are distinct and meaningful ones). 2. Time is written in space. The relationship between the analytically distinct global and local arenas is not only spatial but chronological as well. The local is not only spatially distant but also historically prior. This is

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

64 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

an explicit assumption in a host of models ranging from modernization theory to the search for untouched peoples as a window to the past to folk discourses about backward hillbillies to the practice of seeking antiques in rural areas. Fabians (1983) notion of allochronism arguing that anthropologists have denied chronological coevalness to non-Western Othersis the best-known critique of this tendency. 3. This time dimension is dened centrally in terms of relationship to capitalism at the regional, national, and global level. As Gupta (1998:24) notes, there is an implicit spatial hierarchy in speaking of the articulation of the global with the local. . . . Causationeconomic, cultural, and the likemoves unidirectionally from the West to the Rest. In some models (both folk and scholarly) this is dened in terms of the availability of commodities, in others in terms of the way in which commodities are used or in terms of systems of production. Historical progress is read principally through the spread of global capitalism rather than other areas of social change. The greater availability of radios is progress; the spread of new forms of Islamic fundamentalism is not. Where these other kinds of change are tied to notions of history, it is largely because they represent a total shift in lifestyle toward a Western, capitalistic outlook (e.g., in missionization [Comaroff 1985, Beidelman 1982]). Some recent work (e.g., Englund 2002) has sought to rethink this assumption by examining global ows that do not correspond closely to this type of model. Focusing on Samburu pastoralists, we can now consider how these models construct both their relationship to the Kenyan state and divisions among themselves.

Kenya Is Elsewhere
One weakness of an analysis predicated on the poles of global and local is the extent to which it presents an intrinsically Western worldview. The local is essentially dened as the antithesis of the global. It is a model of the West and the rest, explicating how processes from the centerour processes, even as they have become part and parcel of cosmopolitan locations around the worldaffect the lives of non-Western Others throughout the globe. Yet, while it is not dissimilar to the world-systems view of the center penetrating the periphery, it is in some ways more pernicious. If worldsystems theory portrayed the ship of history reaching Others in timeless lands (Ortner 1984), the globe may now be rendered as a sort of Goffmanesque total institution in which all processes must be understood in terms of the inescapable forces of globalization. It is not merely that in a global-local view we are in the limelight while the Other waits in the shadows to be illuminated by our analysis that situates their lives in a universal globaldescription. Even the distinctive identity of nonWestern peoples is increasingly constructed in our analyses only in relationship to an all-encompassing globalization. Certainly, things may look very different from the

other side. If Western analysts take a global view in which they place the local, local agents take a very different perspective in analyzing these interactions. While global models are inherently universalizing, local ones are intrinsically relative, constituted through the elements that structure their everyday, lived-in realities.3 Certainly an idiom of globalization may be usefully employed to speak to key aspects of contemporary Samburu life. However traditional Samburu may appear and however committed most Samburu are to an independent pastoral existence, Samburu members of the Kenyan military traverse the globe as UN peacekeepers in locations such as Namibia and the former Yugoslavia, while other Samburu have featured prominently in a number of recent Hollywood lms. Moreover, at home their local culture is constituted to no small degree from the pieces of global capitalism (Holtzman 2003). Yet, this global idiom says little about Samburu understandings of the forces that shape their contemporary world. Although the geographical dichotomies on which the global-local model is predicated have largely been incorporated into local discourse, few Samburu conceptualize this in terms of a global model. Indeed, for many even Kenya itself is elsewhere. Tsings (2000) recent call for study of folk understandings of the global is a potentially useful approach to this issue. At the same time, however, any notion of the global is encompassed by broader geographical models that likely contain a variety of intervening layers some of whichas in the Samburu casemay also be dened only in vague terms. Thus, before considering how Samburu might place themselves in the global sphere, it is necessary to consider how they situate themselves within the Kenyan state. In fact, many Samburu simply do not situate themselves within Kenya. During the 1992 national elections, for instance, ofcials in my lowland research area struggled with the insistence of some women on casting their presidential votes for Lekuyie, the sub-location4 chief, rather than for a national candidate. To these women who had never left the district, Lekuyie was, simply, their government. Similarly, when Bilinda Straight (personal communication) asked lowland respondents to tell her where Kenya was, more often than not responses placed Kenya down there; somewhere near Nairobi. Indeed, Samburu and other northern pastoralists working as migratory wage laborers commonly speak of taking the bus to Kenya (Holtzman 1996, Kipuri n.d.). How, then, is the global constituted locally when even conceptions of the national are problematic? The notion of the cosmopolitan (Hannerz 1996, Merton 1957), particularly in Fergusons (1999) recent usage, is useful here. In the cosmopolitan there is a shift away from a uni3. This is not to say that a global perspective is more objective, but central to the subjectivity of a global perspective is its purported universal, transcultural nature. 4. Kenya is divided into series of ever-smaller administrative units. Lodungokwe, for instance, is in Rift Valley Province, Samburu District, Wamba Division, Lodungokwe Location, Lodungokwe SubLocation.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 65

versalizing view of globalization to an attention to the subjective, relative constructions of elsewhere and their salience in particular social contexts. This is an important recognition in decentering approaches to global-local dynamics, since, as Tsing (2000) suggests, there are many different cosmopolitanisms rather than simply the one suggested by ideologies of globalization. In Fergusons interpretation from Zambia, a cosmopolitan is a particular type of person, a type dened in reference to a broader world. Yet, cosmopolitans are dened centrally not by their actual ties to a broader world but by their subjective experience of not being at home at home. They need not be tied any more or less to the global sphere in real terms, but their orientation is to a real or imagined somewhere else even as they live their lives just as locally as localists. This subjective, relative shift is important, though Ferguson retains some problematic elements of here-there dichotomies in his analysis. His dichotomiesthe country and the city or the local and the globalremain real entities upon which ideology is layered. In fact, as the Samburu illustrate, these spatial models are, instead, constructs that are themselves intrinsically ideological. The notion that Samburu are outside of Kenya is, of course, illusory; being dened as outside is an important aspect of the way in which they are inside. Despite these reservations, Fergusons perspective is an important step in allowing a reading of here-there dichotomies that are subjective and relative rather than universal.

Samburu Geography and Economy within the Kenyan State

There are currently approximately 100,000 Samburu (according to the 1990 census), living primarily in Samburu District in north-central Kenya. They are seminomadic pastoralists and are closely related to the better-known Maasai. Their social organization is characterized by an age-set system the most striking feature of which is that for a period of 714 years following initiation young men live as murran (bachelor-warriors), generally distancing themselves from domestic life. Historically the Samburu were among the worlds wealthiest known livestock keepers and survived almost exclusively on the products of their animals (Spencer 1965). There are important ecological/geographical differences within the district that have had important implications for both land use and contemporary spatial models. While much of the district is semiarid-to-arid acacia scrub lying at no more than 4,000 feet above sea level, the Leroghi Plateau (5,500 8,000 feet) is cooler and wetter and characterized by open grasslands and forest at the highest altitudes. The district is administered through Maralal, a town in the southern part of the Leroghi Plateau selected in the colonial era for its favorable climate. There are also divisional headquarters in the lowland centers of Wamba and Baragoi. Access to the district from central Kenya generally follows one of two principal routes, passing

either into the lowlands through Isiolo to the southeast or into the highlands through Rumuruti to the south. Each of these routes involves approximately three hours of travel off the paved road, and as a consequence Samburu is considered to be a fairly remote area within contemporary Kenya. Public transportation out of the district, however, runs consistently along the Maralal Rumuruti route and less consistently through Isiolo. Unpaved all-weather roads link the three divisional headquarters. There is a handful of additional, frequently passable roads, but many parts of the district are either inaccessible to vehicles or simply not visited by vehicles on a regular basis. Economic links between the Samburu and central Kenya are simple but signicant. Large quantities of livestock and hides are exported from the district, mainly by secondary traders. Many Samburuprimarily young menalso seek low-skilled employment outside the district, largely as a consequence of the contemporary decline of the herding economy (Holtzman 1996, Sperling 1987). Most of these are employed as watchmen in Nairobi, though others herd on ranches or hawk souvenirs and dance for tourists on the coast. Since World War II there have also been signicant numbers of Samburu in the police and the military. A range of commodities is imported into the district, including food (maize meal, sugar, and fat), cloths, beads, cooking utensils, and veterinary medicines. These political-economic relationships (and cultural/ ideological understandings of them) are, of course, a historical product. I will not here exhaustively detail Samburu history (see Sobania 1980, Fumagalli 1978, Kasr n.d., Holtzman 1996, Straight 1997) but will highlight those aspects that are most central to the genesis of contemporary time-space models about and among Samburu. A consideration of historical processes is particularly important for the Samburu because both scholarly and popular accounts have tended to portray pastoralist societies as being in some sense outside of history, having been essentially left to themselves after an initial and usually minimally violent incorporation into the colonial state (for recent rebuttals of this view see Anderson 1982, Spencer 1983, Sobania 1988, Little 1992, Ensminger and Rutten 1987). Following indirect contact through the caravan trade and sporadic contact with explorers, sustained contact of Samburu with Europeans began in the rst decade of the twentieth century, with a permanent administrative presence established in the 1920s (Holtzman 1996, Straight 1997, Fumagalli 1977). Colonial political-economic interests in the district were much less signicant than in other parts of Kenya because of the small population and the low productivity of most Samburu land. Labor ows from the district were highly restricted, and Samburu purchased few consumer goods. The export of cattle from the district was important, but maximizing Samburu beef production was neither a central concern of the colonial state nor a central facet of local policy toward the Samburu. Security issues were initially important though, again, of a relatively minor magnitude,

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

66 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

focusing on controlling stock theft and in the 1930s on the occasional spear-bloodying murder of African workers (and on one occasion a British rancher) in neighboring Laikipia District. In the absence of clear and compelling political-economic objectives, policy frequently took on the idiom of a moral project but one without clear objectives. Certainly there was clear colonial advocacy for change on a number of frontsmost notably the cessation of theft and violence and the reform of herding practices that were seen as environmentally damaging threats to longterm livestock productivity. The murran were seen as an anachronism that could potentially become very dangerous. Additionally, there was room for improvement in the quality of life in terms of clothing, housing, health, hygiene, and education. At the same time, there was a perception that, despite various problems, the Samburu were basically a good, if backward, tribe. The district commissioner, for instance, noted in 1928 that while Samburu were on the whole a law abiding and inoffensive tribe he had met only two that he would call truly civilized. . . . They are a released murderer and a prostitute (CPK 1928). In pushing change the colonial authorities were ever concerned that their actions not serve to change an honourable tribe into a dishonourable one. An exemplication of this tension was that those Samburu who seemed to incorporate themselves most fully into the lifestyle advocated by the colonial authorities were not, in fact, admired by them. Charles Chenevix-Trench (1964:155), Samburu District Commissioner during the late 1950s and early 1960s, recalls: In 1963 the [moran] system was an anachronism, wasteful, retrogressive and wholly deplorable: many good people devoted their lives to abolishing it and persuading the moran to take up football instead; but the trouble is that, when you cut a morans hair, take away his spear, and cram him into trousers, he rapidly becomes a township spiv, and his last state is worse than the rst. While traditional Samburu culture was seen to be problematic on some counts, acculturated Samburu were seen to be rather worse. This attitude was, in fact, relevant to the principal mode of incorporation of Samburu into the colonial statemilitary service. In colonial Kenya the Samburu were viewed as natural warriors, a martial tribe whose proper service to the colonial state was as soldiers (Parsons 1999)an opportunity that Samburu generally welcomed (see Holtzman 1996). Entry into the army wasat least by the later colonial period highly competitive, and the educated and acculturated were not encouraged to apply (Chenevix-Trench 1964: 230): A misguided young man presented himself for recruitment wearing a shirt and trousers, his hair cropped and brilliantined, seeking to ingratiate himself by displaying his knowledge of Swahili. But Robert in these matters was a traditionalist: none

but the best of the moran, of good family and independent means, uncontaminated by the twentieth century were acceptable. The smiling aspirant was curtly written off as Township spiv and that was the end of his chances. The perception of many Samburu, in fact, continues to be that uneducated, traditional murran are favored in recruitment for the army and other military services. While this is no longer the casevirtually all recruits now have at least some educationthe persistence of this belief is signicant. It is not simply an outdated understanding of the recruitment process but is related to Samburu ideas of how other Kenyans perceive them and the role Samburu play in the Kenyan state. This perception is not dissimilar to that of another of what Parsons (1999) has characterized as Kenyas martial tribes. As the Akamba politician E. N. Mwendwa (quoted in Parsons 1999:272) argued on the eve of Kenyan independence, We are prepared to accept the Kikuyus and Luos as teachers, but we ask them to accept the Akamba and Kalenjins as Army people. We are going to defend them. The differentiation of the Samburu from more developed groups downcountry was heightened by the Mau Mau insurrection of the 1950s, and these events are still salient for many Samburu. The colonial images dichotomizing good, simple traditional Samburu from more educated but also more nefarious Kikuyu persist among Samburu to this day, even among those born decades after the Mau Mau Emergency. While there had been a few pre-Emergency contacts between Samburu and Kikuyu politicians, mainly stemming from the desire of Samburu to get rid of the highly unpopular system of grazing control, Samburu aided the government against Mau Mau. Samburus support was not necessarily political in a strict sensethey were not closely involved in politics on one side or the other. Rather, they were motivated by a combination of revenge and the opportunity to participate in martial pursuits normally forbidden to them. Following the murder in neighboring Laikipia District of eight Samburu herders working on European-owned ranches, hundreds of Samburu turned out to serve as trackers or soldiers, ghting with the British against Mau Mau (CPK 1952). Moreover, while the colonial government had imposed restrictions on spear ownership in the 1930s, in the context of Mau Mau murran were issued spears with license to killwhich they apparently did enthusiastically. As one participant in these operations boasted to me, We killed so many Kikuyu at that time. Chenevix-Trench (1993) suggests an almost excessive exuberance, to the point of hunting down and capturing an undercover antiMau Mau police unit in the Mathews Range. A distinct effort was made, as well, to keep the Samburu from what was termed Mau Mau infection. It was felt that the Samburu were mainly a loyal tribe but also a simple one that might be twisted against the government. One consequence was that it became ofcial policy not to sentence Samburu criminals to hard labor so that they would not come into

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 67

contact with Kikuyu (CPK 1953), and unofcial efforts were made to keep even murderers out of prison for the same reason (Ramon Goodwin, personal communication).5 The Samburus role in Mau Mau constructed them in an oppositional role to the Kikuyu6 who came to dominate the politics of independent Kenya, and many Samburu believe that this continues to have a bearing on the two groups relationship. Many Samburu frame some recent historical events in reference to Mau Mau. For instance, the Turkana Ngoroko banditry of the late 1970s was, some claim, at least in part orchestrated and executed by Kikuyu members of the armys anti-livestock theft unit not only to gain wealth but to seek revenge for the killing of Kikuyu by Samburu during Mau Mau. Clashes between Samburu and Kikuyu in Laikipia District in the late 1990s are similarly framed by many Samburu in an idiom of Mau Mau. According to Samburu accountswhich differ in part from ofcial onesmany Kikuyu were brought by truck into Laikipia to occupy ranches vacated with the end of the 99-year leases issued to Europeans near the beginning of colonial rule. Samburu claim that the roots of the conict lay in the Kikuyu insistence that this land was rightfully theirs because they had defeated the Europeans during Mau Mau while the Samburu supported the whites. Samburu claim that the Kikuyu were the aggressors in these clashes, hamstringing their cattle and refusing all efforts at mediation before being routed by the manlier Samburu.7 Within the district, real economic and social differences exist between the lowlands (Lpurkel) and the highlands (Ldonyo), stemming to a great extent from ecological differences and the role these have historically played in structuring development. Both development and missionization have been more intense and diffuse in the highlands, owing both to the presence of the district headquarters and a more favorable climate.8 Central government initiatives are administered through Maralal. The greater economic potential of the Leroghi Plateau has attracted a variety of outsiders (from Kikuyu to a former Italian race car driver) who have leased land for commercial wheat farming in the highest-productivity areas. Development-minded Samburu from other parts of the district have also been attracted to Leroghia process that was encouraged during the colonial period and intensied as communally held lands began to be subdivided in the 1970s. Accompanying these processes are signicant differences in attitudes toward change. There are perhaps more Samburu whose peers identify them as nontra5. Goodwin served as a policeman in Samburu District during the period discussed here. 6. Under normal circumstances, however, Samburu get along well with Kikuyu living in the district. 7. Samburu accounts of a glorious victory against a hostile aggressor contrast sharply with human rights reports of heavily armed Samburus killing defenseless Kikuyu but are much closer to the ndings of the judicial inquiry into ethnic clashes. 8. Although Christian missionization began earlier in the lowlands (see Straight 1997), its effects in the highlands are more widespread.

ditional in Leroghi because of both more Western education and more economic diversication, but, more important, there is less of the social and physical polarization between traditional and nontraditional Samburu that is found in the lowlands. In the lowlands there is a perception of a strong, immutable difference between the educated (mostly town-dwelling) and the uneducated Samburu living outside of town (see also Straight 1997). While in the highlands these differences continue to be recognized, they do not result in real social barriers; individuals move fairly freely between traditional and nontraditional social spheres or simply live seemingly on a permanent basis in a happy medium between the two. In the lowlands, educated Samburu tend to be concentrated in towns, largely because Samburu who have lived in towns often nd the small, hot lowland houses unbearable. In contrast, the combination of a cooler climate and larger dwellings renders highland houses generally comfortable even for Samburu who have spent long periods away from them. Moreover, in the lowlands individuals rarely invest in building a Western-style house except in a town where it can double as a shop. In contrast, there is an economic incentive in the highlands to build a house away from town in order to stake a claim to a substantial piece of valuable land.

Geography as Ideology, History

I have thus far discussed the geographical and politicaleconomic articulation of the Samburu with the Kenyan nation, focusing principally on relatively concrete phenomena; economic and political relationships between the Samburu and central Kenya, aspects of regional social differentiation among Samburu, and major historical events. Seen from this vantage point, the Samburu might well be read as a textbook case of uneven development with regard to both the Kenyan state and internal divisions among Samburuor, alternatively, as an example of a Fourth World/indigenous people encapsulated within the Kenyan state. Certainly, there is a sense in which this would accurately render the actual political-economic relationships. At the same time, this view tends to reify these relationships, which, while in some senses real, have an important ideological dimension. What is central here is the ideological construction of spacein particular, the ways in which it is tied to time and development. Recent scholarship no longer treats space as a dead element in which history unfolds but has amply demonstrated its historical construction and ideological constitution (Soja 1989, Foucault 1984, Mitchell 1988). Along these lines, Moore (1998:347) calls for increased attention to what he terms the politics of space, those historically sedimented processes that weave contested meanings into the fabric of locality. Not only does geographical differentiation and the use of space arise over time within specic historical contexts but geographical models are inherently cultural and ideological (Harvey 2001, Thomas 2002, Moore 1999). Notable in this regard is Fabians (1983) above-mentioned notion of allochronism. In a similar vein, Escobar (1995)

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

68 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

has explored the creation of the Third World, while Hall (1992) suggests that the West is a historical rather than a geographical concept, rooted in a conscious self-representation built on difference from an Other. This phenomenon is observable in diverse settings around the globe. Thus, for instance, Metcalf (2001) discusses the historical construction of what are termed Upriver People in Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo). Upriver People are not a well-dened ethnic group but a series of ethnically distinct peoples speaking numerous languagesin essence, a category constructed in contrast to the Malay and Chinese of the coast. This is a category of long-standing importance in the context of trade between inland and coastal areas that has become considerably more central to self-denition since the lumber boom of the 1980s, which both intensied contact with coastal peoples and increased the importance of polyethnic contacts in lumber camps, towns, and the like. The fact that ethnic or polyethnic groupings are formed in opposition to others is hardly new or surprising, but the ways in which these groupings are constructed in spatial terms are nonetheless notable. Similarly, Weismantel (1988) describes the spatial articulation of racial categorization in the Ecuadorian Andes. There, the racial categories of white and Indian are complexly constructed less with regard to physical differences or autochthonous practices than in relation to their class and cultural relationships to the nationstate. Weismantel suggests that categories of white and Indian fuse varying relationships to the nationstate in a racial idiom of backwardness that suggests historical priority embedded in space. Thus, white and Indian are spatialized through opposed dichotomies of highland-lowland, rural-urban, and province-capital. Zirbel (2000) looks at the way in which Egyptian northerners and southerners imagine and form their own identities oppositionally to one another. Here a notable comparison may be made to the Kenyan notion that Samburu District and other parts of northern Kenya are not really part of Kenya. To Cairenes, Cairo is the nation, the true Egypt, while southern Egypt is simply the South, not really part of Egypt at all. Not only are southerners seen as crude, premodern, uncultured, and not proper Muslims but they are purported to be ethnically distinctArabs rather than Egyptiansowing to ancient migrations. For their part, southerners view Cairo as a site of corruption and debauchery. Neither the relationship of the Samburu to central Kenya nor geographical differentiation internal to the Samburu can fully be understood if geography is understood apart from its ideological component. The particular forms of this, I suggest, are local versions of the here-there spatial dichotomies upon which the globallocal model is based. Cultural/ideological equivalences have developed between the ows of commodities and the ows of development-cum-progress. Peter Little (1987) has characterized the political-economic organization of (the rather similar) Baringo District as dendritic in nature. Political-economic links stem from a particular center of power, owing through progressively

smaller centers, while links between centers of equal size are minimized in importance and intensity. The important links are those that tie together centers that differ in size and in their closeness to the centers of political-economic power. It is important here, however, that these dendritic chains are not merely conduits for concrete economic commodities, wealth, and power. Rather, they constitute an ideological model for the ow of culture and, as such, construct the relationship of remote groups to central Kenya through an interweaving of historical and geographical discourses, conating space and history. Development itself ows along these paths, inscribing history in space.9 Thus Samburu are seen as historically priorof an earlier era, traditional, primitive, backwardprecisely because they are geographically local and outside the mainstream of Kenyan national life.

Being Local, Being Traditional

The concept of the local has enjoyed widespread usage in Kenya since at least the early 1960s. The precise origins of the term are not entirely clear,10 though it developed in the political milieu of late colonialism when earlier terms for describing the African population fell into disfavor (for discussion, see, for instance, CPK 1961). Specically, the term native began to take on strong negative connotations because of its association with British subjugation of African peoples. Thus, for instance, what had formerly been referred to as Native Liquor (e.g., in the oft-revised Native Liquor Ordinance of 1930) was recast as local brew, a designation that these beverages maintain to this day (Holtzman 2001). The term local derives, then, from its euphemistic substitution for the disfavored native, and this continues to be a central aspect of its meaning.11 In its current usage, however, it is signicantly broader and more complex. In many contexts it is used synonymously with the Kiswahili term kienyeji or the English term African. Kienyeji derives from the verb enye (to possess) and means ostensibly the ways of those who possess a particular place. The connotations of the term are local12 but more strongly native/indigenous in the sense of something that originally was associated with a place and its original customs. The adjective African may be used as a substitute for local when a contrast is being made with a more cosmopolitan form of an object or activity. Designating something as local/kien9. A scholarly rendering of this folk model may be seen in Sojas (1968) early work on the geography of modernization in Kenya. See also Redelds (1941) classic study of Yucata n. 10. Deeper inquiry into the origins of the local in Kenya and elsewhere would contribute to a fuller historical reading of the dichotomies considered here. 11. The history of the concept of indigenous people (Be teille 1998) has notable parallels. 12. Kienyeji can, in fact, be used as a direct translation of local (e.g., in local time at place of origin). This is not, however, its principal usage in common speech.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 69

yeji/African is, however, less a way of describing what something is than a way of describing what it is not. Ostensibly the central meaning of these terms focuses on a contrast between the cosmopolitan ways of the West (including Nairobis respectable elements)the correct ways of doing thingsand the way things are done by people who lack the knowledge or resources to do things correctly. A notable illustration of this comes from the classication of livestock, where the distinction is made between kienyeji and grade. Here the contrast is not between indigenous and foreign breeds but between indigenous breeds and those to which a standard is applied. A variety of things may be categorized as local, kienyeji, or African. In some instances this may express pride in the cleverness of being able to make to do without the proper resources. One day, for instance, when an automobile mechanic in Samburu District was replacing a bad wheel bearing, I asked him how he could do this without the mechanical press normally required. He smiled knowingly and informed me that he would do it kienyeji and proceeded to apply the bearing to the axle with a hammer and a two-by-four.13 Similarly, on another occasion a mechanic at a different garage proudly displayed what he termed a kisu kienyejia local/native knife that he had fashioned out of a broken leaf spring from a Japanese-made truck. Possibly nefarious agreements made outside the gaze or the rules of the state or other authority were local arrangements. On occasion, Kenyans in urban areas jokingly referred to marijuana as African tobacco, while locally brewed beer and liquor were frequently referred to as African liquor/whiskey. The use of African is interesting here, since presumably this term was used in order to communicate something to me as a non-African and the items designated as African were items assumed not to be cosmopolitan in nature. Thus, no one would think to characterize something as an African bar of soap, an African post ofce, or an African teahousethese are recognized as being part of respectable, mainstream Kenyan culture, common across class boundaries in Nairobi and elsewhere and consequently assumed to be part of cosmopolitan culture. Essentially what is at issue is whether a thing comes from the higher-class sphere of Westernized culture, with its Kenyan center at Nairobi, or from an under culture that is lower-class, African (if not necessarily chronologically traditional), and not derived from the visible world of Nairobi. Within Kenyan national culture local and its equivalents fuse a variety of otherwise diffuse categories of history, class, ethnicity, and race in a common emphasis on being outside the mainstream of Kenyan culture and national development. It fuses a spatial category with class in that things that are local are associated with lower-class rather than elite activities and with race in its connections with African
13. Doing a repair kienyeji differs from jua kali (hot sun), a common term used to describe work undertaken in open-air workshops, in suggesting clever improvising rather than a substandard hack job.

ways of doing things as opposed to European or cosmopolitan ways. It fuses an idiom of space with that of time in that things that are local are also traditional. And it becomes a way of talking about ethnicity in the sense of the particular customs of a particular tribal group. What is most important to the present analysis is the way in which space is fused with time. The spurious nature of this equivalencethings that are local are not necessarily more traditional in a chronological sense is signicant in tying it to the ethnic and political-economic dimensions of the local. Outside of urban areas, differences due to historically constituted ethnicity or political-economically constituted class frequently become blurred. Clearly Samburu self-dened traditional culture does not reect precolonial patterns but has been formed in a historical, economic, and social context in which Samburu value what they see as the essence of continuity. While outsiders have dened Samburu to be a (permanently) remote, undeveloped area, modes of dress, ways of eating, patterns of work, and, indeed, the very way in which social change is understood are all shaped within forms of articulation to the Kenyan state. Thus, a polyester tartan blanket produced in a factory in Pakistan is traditional or local not because it is historically prior but because it is worn in place of the cosmopolitan trousers. The Czech bead ornaments that undergo frequent revisions to keep up with the latest Samburu fashions (Straight 2002a) are, similarly, premodern simply because they, and their users, are not modern. Those things that are traditional or local are those items which, dened somewhat circularly, are used by people who are traditional or localfrequently geographically peripheral peoples, maintaining distinct ethnic practices in place of national or cosmopolitan ones. What is important about local practices is that they are not mainstream, modern Kenyan culture; they are behind, backward, and out of step.14 Samburus ethnicity, dened as backwardness, is rooted in locality. I now shift my focus from the Kenyan national scene to examine the ways in which versions of these concepts have been adopted and employed among Samburu in northern Kenya.

Being Kienyeji in Samburu

Samburus understandings of change radically polarize self-dened tradition and the Euro-American ways of life associated with their encapsulation by and integration into the Kenyan state. Notions of change are situated within indigenously salient dichotomies that contrast whiteness with blackness, the way of the government with the way of Samburu, and development with kien14. The difference between Kenyan national culture and Samburu notions of local/traditional culture lies mainly in moral evaluation. While in both blankets-trousers is a contrasting pair, among Samburu it is the blanket that is superior.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

70 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

yeji (or, alternatively, the ways of long ago). Conceptions of Ldonyo and Lpurkel (highland and lowlands) and town and resaab (reserve) have spatialized these dichotomies in the context of increased regional differentiation. Samburu have long viewed change in starkly polarized terms, with the result that, despite having for some time had a range of borrowed or hybrid practices, they have not conceptualized them as such. Novel items or aspects of change have either been rejected as inconsistent with Samburu life, accepted grudgingly as an undesirable reality of their changed lives, or, relatively rarely, indigenized in a way that conceptualized them as part of a timeless Samburu tradition (for instance, their mode of dress or the now widespread use of tea) (Holtzman 2003, Straight 2002a). Samburu today most frequently discuss change in an idiom of development. Development was frequently contrasted with kienyeji among highland informants, while all informants contrasted it with the way Samburu lived long ago. The Kiswahili terms for development have been indigenized and are commonly used in Samburu speech. Thus maendeleo (development) becomes maendeleoni, and Samburu may say ikiendeleayakie (We have developed), from the Kiswahili verb endelea. Yet what constitutes development for Samburu may be very different from Euro-American notions of development. For Samburu, development is constituted of those forms of change that are both interpreted as being on the balance positive and associatedif sometimes only very vaguelywith the external sources. The specic referents for development are, however, uid and highly contextual, often centering on the activities that have most intensely or recently been promoted in a particular area. Thus, Straight (2000) notes that near the lowland Samburu town of Wamba, maendeleo meant almost exclusively small-scale commerce, undertaken mainly by women, because this was the form of development that was promoted most visibly by the German project in the area. The uidity of the notion of development may, similarly, make explicable one informants complaint that his cows had eaten his development before concluding that cows and development cannot be together. While on the face of it this may sound like an indigenous rendering of time-worn notions of pastoral conservatism (e.g., Schneider 1959), he was actually making the much more limited and rooted assertion that it is difcult to prevent cows from eating seedlings if you wish to plant trees in accordance with contemporary models of a developed Samburu settlement. Notably, the practices Samburu construe as development may bear little relationship to Western ones, even if Samburu perceive them to be associated with modernity and Western-driven aspects of change. Thus, wearing a blanket and two cloths is seen by many as an index of development, while wearing only one is prototypically kienyeji. As one informant noted, So many people [in the lowlands] dont want to put on blankets. They also dont want to put on two cloths. People just put on one cloth. Its just recently that they have come

to go near development. Because they used to stay with one cloth. Both local and kienyeji are intrinsically relative to ones own standard of what it means to be developed or enlightened. Thus, Noloimisi Lengosekliving in the prototypical Samburu house of mud, dung, and sticks, monolingual in Samburu, and dressed in Samburu shukas and copious quantities of multicolored beads understands that it is people from the lowlands who are kienyeji and not herself. She eats a variety of pastoral and nonpastoral foods, her family has begun to do some farming, and she has a certicate from the district commissioner for attending a seminar on traditional midwifery. When I asked if her many beads might mark her as kienyeji to some in town, she seemed bafed by the question before simply asserting that her beads were very clean, as she washed them regularly. Other informants are keenly aware of the relative nature of being kienyeji or local. The lone primary school graduate in a remote lowland community explained that local refers to these people who havent gone to school, referring disparagingly to his neighbors. Yet he laughed and agreed when I suggested that in Nairobi his bored ears would instantly mark him as very local. To a striking extent Samburu associate all forms of change with an external source. The most long-standing expression of this contrasts the Samburu way of life with the way of the government (serikali). The earliest intense contact of Samburu with Euro-American culture was with the colonial administration, which, because Samburu was a closed district, vitiated most other sources of externally driven change. The government both modeled Euro-American culture and introduced changes derived from it. Thus, introduced foods such as maize meal are frequently referred to as government food because they represent a way of life brought by the government in contrast to the culturally signicant diet of milk, meat, and blood. Trousers are government clothes both because they were introduced in colonial times and because they were worn by government ofcers. The way people live may generally be characterized as being more or less Samburu or of the government. Thus, Lereete, a junior elder from a remote lowland area, asserts, In Ldonyo they no longer follow Samburu traditions very much. They have taken hold of the traditions of the government. Samburu notions of government or serikali are interesting in their ambivalence. The metaphorical associations of serikali are principally with the white colonial government (though it may concretely refer to the Kenyan government), and the ambivalence surrounding the term to a great extent reects ambivalence toward that government. There was much that Samburu hated about the colonial governmentfor example, the system of grazing control, the micromanagement of many aspects of their lives, and the execution of murran found to have killed enemiesyet informants also express respect for it, saying that it was honest and well-organized. Ironically, respect was intertwined with the very things they hated. One older woman, for instance, spoke ad-

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 71

miringly of the fact that the colonial government would simply hang murderers, as opposed to what she saw as a disorganized process today. Serikali is also favorably associated with notions of power and is used as a joking nickname to emphasize someones power and authority. It may be used with someone who really is associated with the government (e.g., a councilor) but also as simple attery, for instance, to encourage a friend to buy one a drink. In contrast to lowland Samburu, highland Samburu rarely use an idiom of the government to talk about culture change, but they continue to construe change in terms of whiteness and power. Thus one highland junior elder suggested that a person whose tastes had changed to Western ones had left kienyeji and gone to the side of the bosses (boosi). Practices ranging from farming to living in block houses and particular modes of dress are, moreover, specically associated with whiteness. While Samburu retain a strong ambivalence toward culture change, they view white goods as superior to kienyeji ones. According to one woman, Things of the white people are better because they developed rst. Along these lines, one informant suggested that, among Samburu kienyeji things, only the clay cooking pot and the milk calabash could compare in durability and usefulness with white goods. Lekutaas, a senior elder who learned about whiteness rsthand in the 1950s as a soldier in the Kings African Ries but had for the past 45 years lived a pastoral existence in the Samburu highlands, similarly pointed to the more rened nature of white commodities (as well as their consumers) in a contrast between white and African alcoholic beverages: These [African] ones are for black people. Because do whites drink busaa and changaa? They drink theirs that they have made for themselveslike whiskey, brandy, what, like dry gin.15 Thats also whites changaa. But these rascals [Africans], they do not know how to distill it with a machine. They brew it in a drum, then a poison just comes out. But the wazungu [white] knows how to eliminate that poison in their whiskey. It is examined and the strength is known. But we dont examine ours when its distilled. We just drink it like that, with a lot of impurities and without even adding water. . . . Its good to be diluted. Thats why the whites put in dry-gin water so that it doesnt kill. Whites do not drink without water. The fact that Samburu have long viewed change in polarized terms of the way of the government versus the way of Samburu, whiteness and blackness, and development and kienyeji is central to the ways in which change has been integrated. Indeed, it is only very recently that an uneducated Samburu might say, as one of my informants suggested, that people here [in the highlands] want to stay like white people, but also live like Samburuthat is, that Samburu might seek to inter15. This passage was in Samburu, but the informant used the English terms for these liquors.

weave aspects of what they have long perceived to be diametrically opposed ways of life.16 At some level it is this very polarization that makes it appear that many Samburu now accept ideologies of development more or less wholesale. While it is perhaps axiomatic that when new ideas or practices are adopted they are always adopted with a difference (e.g., Comaroff and Comaroff 1991), Samburu have adopted notions of development and the associated spatial models I will discuss below in deliberate consonance with their understandings of these constructs Western meanings, even as their instantiations of these are inected in particular Samburu ways. The severe declines in the livestock economy over the past few decades have left many Samburu not only destitute and struggling to nd alternatives but also prepared to embrace current patterns of widespread poverty as empirical proof that, perhaps, Samburu have been wrong about development all along. Thus, there is a growing tendency for Samburu to adopt a new identity based in underdevelopment (see Gupta 1998) in place of their long-standing identity based in the cultural superiority of pastoralism, embracingin speech if not necessarily in their actionsthe very economic and cultural alternatives that they have struggled against for decades.

Models of Time and Space in Samburu District

People of the Lpurkal (lowlands) have not developed, asserted Noloimisi Lengosek, a highland Samburu woman of about 60. They still live like people of long ago. As we talked at her home, a few kilometers from Lodokejek town, she continued to explain how lowland Samburus way of life differed from the way of life she followed in the highlands: They eat dirt, these people of the Lpurkel. They wear bad clothes, these people of the Lpurkel. They eat food without frying, these people of the Lpurkel. Sometimes they get problems, problems getting water and also problems getting food. They have no shops near them. So thats what makes them different. Just as the West is in many ways more a time than a place (Gupta 1998, Hall 1992), contemporary Samburu spatial categories deny chronological coevalness (Fabian 1983) to the inhabitants of different regions. Specically, Samburu have spatialized their categories concerning change, developing here-there dichotomies that map time onto space in ways parallel to the broader Kenyan model of the local. Indeed, by the 20012 research period, the use of the term local, though restricted to a younger, educated minority, was increasing. Educated members of the Mooli age-set in my highland site of Lodokejek had begun referring to uneducated people by the pejorative term localian. The ian sufx is a com16. For a discussion of a similar dynamic among the closely related Maasai, see Hodgson (2001).

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

72 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

mon Samburu linguistic form for referring to a person, and this word was described to me by informants as a way of making it [the word local] more Samburu.17 Although uneducated informants were not familiar with the term local (nor did they realize that they were being referred to as localian), they nevertheless shared a spatialized model of history. In essence, Samburu have developed a geographical-historical-economic map of the district that encodes and decodes social differentiation among themselves in ways that broadly parallel the relationship of Samburu generally to central Kenya. This in no sense reects precolonial Samburu geographies but is a colonial and postcolonial model construing geography as the central trope for understanding social change. Space has always had a particular salience for Samburu, with the expectation that they would travel extensively, encountering different people and different environments. During their time as murran, young men should venture widely, gaining a complete understanding of the Samburu lands, their people, and their neighbors. (This practice has diminished somewhat in the course of the past two age-sets.) The songs that murran sing in praise of themselves and their age-mates have an important spatial component, documenting their movement through Samburu lands and those of their neighbors and enemies (see also Straight 1997). As one murran noted, We are always singing how we passed such and such a place, how we killed someone at such and such a place, or how we ate an ox at such and such a place. Women are less mobile but also travel extensively in the course of livestock migrations and visits to relatives. Though women from outlying areas travel to towns less frequently than men, such trips are not uncommon, and prior to the development of trading centers women engaged in interethnic trade with neighboring groups such as the Meru. While they tended to be somewhat less knowledgeable about more distant places, women informants did not differ discernibly from men in either contemporary or historical renderings of space. Indigenous Samburu renderings of space do not strongly create a social identity through an attachment to xed places. This is perhaps not surprising, since Samburu lifestyles have been characterized by frequent movement in partially established seasonal rounds and occasional shifts to more distant areas. Consequently, Samburu spatially construct their identity less through attachment to places than through mythological and historical renderings of their migratory movements. It is notable in this regard that not even their spatial renderings of divinity construct mythic claims to space as does, for instance, the tree in western Nuerland where humans were created (Evans-Pritchard 1956) or the timeless residence of the Kikuyu deity on Mount Kenya (Kenyatta 1962) but instead suggest a deity almost as nomadic as themselves. Thus, like a herder in search of pasture, Nkai, the Samburu deity, is known to have moved into and out of places, utilizing particular landscape features
17. Informants were insistent that the ian was not English (as in Italian) but a Samburu sufx.

conducive to holiness, rather than creating lasting holiness through timeless presence (Straight 2002b). Samburu indigenous geographies are not without a relationship between social and spatial categories, but this relationship is highly uid and not sharply dened. One way in which this is expressed is in the construction of spaces as border areas with neighboring ethnic groups. Thus, for instance, life in western parts of Samburu is signicantly dened by the presence of their archrivals the Turkana and patterns of frequent raiding, while Samburu living in the east are seen as having important similarities with Rendille, with whom they frequently cooperate and intermarry and from whom some ritual cycles are initiated. These regional lines have certainly become more sharply dened through increased sedentarization, but it is unlikely that they are a particularly recent invention (see Fratkin 1998). Places within Samburu lands are frequently named and to a lesser extent dened in reference to families or sections. Often this relates to the known presence of a large number of people from a particular section, since, although sections are not geographically based, members of the same section prefer to live together. Such designations are, however, descriptive rather than conferring ownership or any special rights. Thus, for instance, the reference to a Samburu section in the place-name Marti le Lukumae (the purple mesa of the Lukumae Section) serves to distinguish it from other several other places named Marti rather than to attribute ownership to the Lukumae Section. Moreover, even though many geographical features are named after particular clans or families, this confers no special rights, and informants often have no idea why a name is associated with a place. Indeed, often those groups who give their name to a place may no longer be there. Thus, for instance, in 199294 I often visited a place in the lowlands that was referred to as Lpusi Leleringato (roughly, the gray open space of the Leringato family) despite the total absence of Leringatos anywhere in the vicinity. As with the Ghorkas discussed by Forbes (1999), places are dened by their use by people rather than peoples being dened by reference to places. Using people to dene places has little to do with creating a sense of ownership, instead simply describing a place in terms of something that once happened there or in terms of the people one might nd there, as in place-names relating to animals (e.g., Ledero, hill with many rats), plants (e.g., Nkorien, place characterized by wild olive trees), or geographical features (e.g., Soit Onyekie, place with a red, rocky outcropping). In indigenous spatial orientations focused on how places are utilized, a key feature of historical and contemporary Samburu geographies is the distinction between Ldonyo and Lpurkel. These are, however, spatialecological-aesthetic categories rather than social ones. As with other pastoralists in Africa and elsewhere, highlands and lowlands are seasonally signicant grazing resources. While lowlands provide grazing during wet seasons, highlands offer essential dry-season grazing. The highland/lowland division is extrapolated to other op-

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 73

posed pairs such as cool/hot and dark/light. It has been argued that this division is central enough to pastoral praxis that it is an organizing principle in Samburu religious systems and a key aesthetic principle in ornamentation (Rainy 1989). Notably, because of their relatively recent acquisition of the Leroghi Plateau, it is implausible that highland and lowland would have been salient social categories to precolonial Samburu. The Ldonyo-Lpurkel distinction has been transformed in a variety of ways in the contemporary context. Because of the now less frequent movement between highlands and lowlands, differences within each are largely attened by inhabitants of the other. This is particularly the case among younger informants, who are less likely to have traveled widely in their youth. Thus, a highland man in his late twenties listened with surprised attentiveness as a neighbor in his fties exploded his simple Ldonyo-Lpurkel dichotomy. He explained that there are, in fact, three different LpurkelsLpurkel Onyekie (the red lowlands), Lpurkel Sunya (the white sandy areas east of the Matthews Range), and the Lpurkel of Lbarta to the north, which differed in ecological characteristics, seasonal patterns of grazing, suitability for different types of livestock, and characteristics important for human habitation such as the presence of disease and of water sources. Thus, while the younger man saw the Lpurkel as a specic area (dened in contrast to his own home area of Ldonyo), the older man dened Lpurkel as a type of area of which there could be many manifestations. In the contemporary context, highland-lowland has been transformed from an ecological-aesthetic division into a largely social and economic one, reecting differing forms of social and economic practices by distinct types of Samburu largely xed to particular locales. The increasingly common if problematic practice of xing kinds of people to kinds of places was illustrated by a joke that was circulating in Lodokejek in 1993. According to the joke, a junior elder named Lesaan actually lived in the Lpurkel. Lodokejek is in the lower part of the highlands, and with some levity people maintained that the Lpurkel actually began on the downward slope of the hill near the Catholic mission, where the soil was hard, white, and rocky. Since Lesaan lived on the hill, he really lived in the Lpurkel and not in Ldonyo like his neighborshe was, therefore, a lowland Samburu and not a highlander. Though said in jest, what was being implied about Lesaan was not merely that he was in the lowlands but that he was of the lowlands, a slightly backward outsider to the local group. By 20012, the notion that these areas of Lodokejek beyond the mission really were Lpurkel had hardened. When I walked with informants in these areas they would often insist we had entered the Lpurkel. When pressed, they had difculty making their casethere are, in fact, no notable social differences between this neighborhood and othersand would typically point to types of acacia not widely found in Ldonyo. Yet it was more than this. One informant insisted, Dont you see that they just live like people from the Lpurkel? None of these

women has even heard of miraa [khat], and the women here also dont drink. On another occasion, driving up an infrequently used vehicle track a mile or so from town, we startled a herdboy of about eight who ran away from the vehicle. The three Samburu occupants of the vehicle laughed at the backwardness of the people here in the Lpurkel. He has never seen a car before! one exclaimed. He thought it was an elephant, laughed another. I suspect that these comments were based mainly in mild competition between neighborhoods and the clans predominant in them. But more important than why these informants insisted that their neighbors two or three kilometers away were lowland Samburu is that they not only recognized a distinct category of lowland Samburu but applied it pejoratively. The contemporary association of people with places is due to a number of factors, rooted rst in the limiting of nomadic movements. The establishment of the Samburu in their present lands appears to date to the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, after their migration from southern Ethiopia. Their present border with Turkana was established in 1907 by Captain Stigand on an expedition to Ethiopia (Stigand 1910) and later defended by the British in the context of pacifying the Turkana in 1917 (CPK 1923). Notably with regard to the Ldonyo-Lpurkel distinction, Samburu possession of the Leroghi Plateau is relatively recent, Laikipiak and Purko Maasai having made use of it in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Indeed, the colonial administration actively solicited Samburu accounts placing them on the plateau at as early a time as possible in the context of the 1930 Kenya Land Commission in order to avoid the possible seizure of Samburu lands for European ranches (CPK 1933).18 Within these colonially established borders, a variety of processes have increasingly xed Samburu to particular places to the point that one might speak of highland and lowland Samburu as socially salient categories. Until recently there was a high degree of uidity in movement between highlands and lowlands in terms of both seasonal migrations and longer-term shifts. Among older individuals it is, in fact, common to nd people originally from the highlands living in the lowlands and vice versa. Fixing people to particular places began in the colonial period and continues to the present. The colonial authorities, out of concern for ease of administration, began the process as an effort to regularize the relationship of particular clans to particular places. They believed that Samburu clanslike those of their close relatives the Maasaiwere supposed to be territorial units and that their geographical dispersal was an ethnographic mess that good government would clean up. Since for much of the colonial period government-appointed chiefs were clan-based, the government sought to move clan members to the place where their chief lived and where they belonged. Thus, in 1957 the district com18. Administrators opposed the settler lobbys efforts to extend white farms onto the Leroghi Plateau. Ultimately no adequate alternative area could be found and Samburu were not evicted.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

74 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

missioner notes: Sections are now rmly established in their own grazing areas and sub-areas and I think you have heard the last of complaints about unfair distribution. The next step is to try to get permanent residential areas accepted (CPK 1957). While the scale and the permanence of these forced settlements are unclear, some local groups trace their origins to this process. At Lodokejek, for instance, there is a large group from the Loimisi clan brought there by its chief in the late 1940s at the behest of the colonial government, and some informants assert that essentially all the inhabitants of Lodokejek were originally from the lowlands. Further impact came from the system of grazing control instituted in the 1940s and 1950s. All of the Leroghi Plateau and a few prime parts of the lowlands were divided into grazing blocks under what was termed the Texas system. Blocks were opened and closed on a four-month rotational basis to allow the land to rest and the grass to recover. Small stock were banned from the plateau, while a permit was required to keep cattle there in order to limit the total number of cattle to 40,000 head. Permits were most readily issued to former soldiers in the Kings African Ries and other educated or forward-looking Samburu both in the hope that they would make the best use of these high-productivity lands and because these were the people most likely to foment unrest concerning the extremely unpopular grazing control system. Many Samburu were not allowed to use the plateau to graze their cattle, and those with permits frequently had to divide their herds in order to stay within quota limits. Evidence suggests that this played an important early role in forging the socioeconomic distinction between highlands and lowlands. Spencer (1973) reports that in the late 1950s a distinction had become important between the way of life practiced in the resaab (reserves) and the sikim (government grazing schemes). The sikim represented an easier, more developed but also more controlled life, while the resaab allowed Samburu to pursue a less controlled but more difcult way of life that was perhaps more traditional and offered greater opportunities. These characterizations essentially mirror the division of Ldonyo and Lpurkel today. More recent developments have further served to x Samburu in particular places. Of most signicance in this regard is land adjudication. Like many governments in Africa and elsewhere, which are uncomfortable with the notion of communal land, the government of Kenya has sought to privatize land throughout the country. Land adjudication began in Samburu District in 1973, primarily on Leroghi. In a handful of areas private deeds have been issued, but more commonly land has been allocated to group ranches in which residents communally control the use of a dened area (Lesorogol 2002). Notably, in many of the highest-rainfall areas of Leroghi, membership in group ranches has been closed, and Samburu not appearing on the membership list may be prohibited from using the land. There remains some degree of uiditywell-connected individuals continue to nd means to get access to the best land, while some in-

migration is still allowed in less productive areas. As land becomes increasingly commodied, however, the relationship of peoples and places is becoming more and more xed. For instance, in the 1990s a substantial group of Samburu from the lowlands had ed to the highlands as a consequence of devastating raiding by Turkana employing military-style weaponry. While in the past such in-migration would have been a normal consequence of insecurity, these immigrants were disparagingly referred to as refugees and foreigners, and Lodokejek residents seemed merely to tolerate their resettlement in a new area of the location that had been absorbed from a now-defunct government ranch. The political-economic processes discussed earlier have played a central role in differentially transforming the ways of life of Samburu now relatively xed to differing types of places. Economic development and political infrastructure have focused disproportionately on the highlands and provided an attraction for Samburu interested in new economic opportunities. Ldonyo is an area of developmenthome of the district center, education, and agriculturewhile the Lpurkel is traditional or backward. There are notable, though often subtle, differences in dress and ornamentation (Straight 2002a), particularly among women and murran, and it is usually possible to distinguish between highland and lowland Samburu at a glance. Within Ldonyo a distinction is often made between the lower parts of the highlands and the higher parts of the highlands, sometimes characterized as a division between Ldonyo and the real Ldonyo. In the real Ldonyo, mainly those areas to the west of Maralal, agriculture is well established, education much more widespread, and Protestant Christianity much more common. Substantial tracts of the high-productivity land there are leased for wheat farming to individuals from outside the district. In the Lpurkel, important spatial dichotomies have also developed. Here the most crucial distinction is between town and resaab. As we have seen, this townrural distinction is more pronounced in the lowlands than in the highlands, where development-minded Samburu are spread much more evenly across the landscape and where there is much greater social uidity among educated and uneducated Samburu. Straight (1997) focuses specically on the birth of centersnucleated sites of administration, habitation, and, most important, commerce that have played an important role in the spatial reorganization of colonial and contemporary Samburu lifeand notes the growing social and cultural divisions between Samburu of the town and those of outlying areas. Parallel to the Ldonyo-Lpurkel distinction, town carries both positive and negative connotations in contrast to resaab. While it is in some senses a source of education and development, it is in other senses the home of schoolboys who have lost touch with Samburu life, idle youth or wakora (ChenevixTrenchs [1964] township spivs) who waste time smoking cigarettes, chewing miraa (khat), and perhaps looking for trouble, and generally a place quite out of touch with revered aspects of Samburu life. Even the Samburu spo-

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 75

ken in the town is considered devolved in vocabulary and pronunciation through excessive exposure to Kiswahili and English. While the people of the resaab are ignorant and out of touch with modern life, they are also seen as the true and pure Samburu. It is important to note here, however, that the town is not simply a place but a way of life and an attitude. As with Fergusons cosmopolitans, these are spatial subjectivities rather than actual locations. Straight (1997) notes, for instance, that Samburu of the resaab perceive elements in their own lifestyles or those of their rural neighbors that are letown (of the town). Indeed, what is important here is less that Samburu areas differ than that these spatial dimensions constitute a moral geography through which Samburu understand tradition and change. Specically, Samburu have encoded social differences in an ideology of change that is geographical in naturethey have developed their own here-there spatial dichotomies, which conceptualize space itself in terms of notions of historical time dened by capitalism and development. Added to the dichotomies of whiteness versus blackness, the way of the government versus the way of Samburu, and development versus kienyeji are the spatialized models of Ldonyo versus Lpurkel and town versus resaab. In most senses it is the highest areas of Ldonyo that are seen as the apex of Samburu development, which may eventually lter downward to the lowlands. As one informant from a lower part of Leroghi told me, The people of Lorrok have been near towns, so those people got clever. Then they passed that knowledge to these people [in Lodokejek]. These ones still have to take that knowledge down to those people of Lodungokwe [in the lowlands]. The ideological construction of development is particularly evident here in that the highest areas are in many objective senses considerably less developed than other parts of the highlands, particularly in terms of infrastructure such as towns and good roads. Despite this, they are perceived to be more advanced because their inhabitants are more development-oriented and their practices more modern, particularly with regard to the widespread practice of agriculture. The basic framework for this moral geography is widely shared among Samburu, though the moral evaluation of these differences varies somewhat, particularly according to highland or lowland residence. While Ldonyo is associated with development, it is also associated with town life and a breakdown in Samburu values. While the Lpurkel is backward, it is conversely a bastion of true Samburu culture. It is common, for instance, for Samburu to debate which area has superior murran. While Ldonyo murran are seen as being cleverer because many have attended at least some school (and some argue that they are also better decorated and more beautiful) people from the Lpurkel deride them as not being real murran. They adhere less strictly to murran food taboos and are dandies rather than warriors, concerned with looking like murran but little else. As one lowland woman suggested, their murran are widely feared, massacring Turkana raiders at a nearby river in

the mid-1990s and halting a seemingly unstoppable advance. In contrast, those from Ldonyo cant do anything unless the Pokot are with them. According to another woman, During the last drought our murran were running up and down trying to see what few cows they could save. Those of Ldonyo were just strolling around Maralal chewing gum. Similarly, informants from both Ldonyo and the Lpurkel acknowledge the greater sense of respect and social responsibility found among Samburu from the lowlands. Ldonyo residents are increasingly said to fear nothing in violating proper forms of behavior. As one lowlands woman noted, [People from Ldonyo] cannot even give you a place to sleep. When we people of the Lpurkel go to Ldonyo, when we go to sell goats and look for someplace to sleepwhen you look for someplace to sleep, a person can just be eaten by wild animals, but no one will give you a place to sleep. Yet at the same time, this informant and others respect the cleverness of people from Ldonyo, which allows even the stockless to be well fed and to have access to commodities such that when you enter the house you cannot even imagine that they dont have animals. Conversely, Lpurkel residents construe themselvesdespite their moral superiority and greater adherence to traditionas in some ways inferior because they lack the market cleverness of people from Ldonyo. As one woman exclaimed with regard to the claims of Ldonyo residents that people from the Lpurkel were foolish, Are we not foolish?!?! A person of the Lpurkel can just take his goat and sell it at a hundred shillings or two hundred. Are you not foolish by doing that? You choose your best goat and come and throw it away like that. How far is this place [from Maralal]? So after traveling all that way you say, Let me just throw this thing away and go back. So why wouldnt they say we are foolish? These contradictory moral evaluations can even be evidenced in the same individuals. One educated informant, complaining to me about a disagreement he had had with a group of murran, told me that the reason for their behavior was that they were naipurkel (from the Lpurkel), having emigrated about ve years previously. Yet naipurkel was more than a description of their residence historiesit was an insult concerning their mindset. As he elaborated, These ones are naipurkel because they are very primitive. They dont even have shambas [farms]. . . . Those original ones of the Lpurkel are very good, but these ones think they know a lot because they have come to Ldonyo. Thus, he suggests, while in the Lpurkel they might be valued for the purity of their traditions and their adherence to proper forms of respect, by coming to Ldonyo they had acquired a pretense of knowledge and with it a bad attitude. In essence, Samburu have developed their own model of the local. Highlands or lowlands, town or reserve serves to describe ones relationship to social change and the Kenyan state that drives it, such that an interpre-

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

76 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

tation of history has come to be written across the landscape of Samburu District. Thus, although social change is arguably spread rather evenly across the landscape albeit in different formsit is treated as something that has or has not occurred or occurred in varying degrees in different areas because the concept of change itself is constructed in a particular way. Specically, change is understood to be something driven by Kenyan national/ cosmopolitan culture, development, capitalism, agriculture, and the like. It is recognized (or at least meaningful) only when it takes forms that are sanctioned by and clearly emanate from centers of power and developmentfrom central Kenya, from town, or the more developed areas of the highlands. This process is relational rather than absolute. In the course of a conversation, a man from a fairly remote area of the lowlands mentioned to me a recent trip that he had made to Nairobi. Nairobi? I asked in surprise, for I had not known him to have traveled to Nairobi, at least not recently. He quickly corrected himself. He had actually meant Maralal, and he explained laughingly that the mistake was natural since they now had all the same things in Maralal as in Nairobithieves, prostitutes, electricity, and rows of shops lled with things to buy. Thus, in some essential quality, Maralal was the same kind of place as Nairobi, most centrally a node of capitalism and change.

Conclusion: Other Maps, Other Meanings

Far to the northwest of Samburu District lies the sacred Mount Ngiro, to which Samburu regularly turn to offer their prayers to the deity Nkai. It is there that every 14 or so years Samburu of the Lmasula clan gather to perform the most sacred of ceremonies, the slaughter of a bull that begins the initiation of a new age-set. Once the bull has been slaughtered and the rst initiates have been circumcised, word spreads of the opening of a new ageset and local clan groups gatherrst closer to Ngiro, then progressively farther awayin massive settlements (lorora) of a hundred or more families in which the knife will turn their own boys into men. The initiations complete, the families will in time disperse, but the places will be remembered and, for a time, marked by the piles of resticks that the youths have leaned against the sacred lngiringoi tree. If a new, dichotomous geographical model reecting notions of the global and the local has now become a salient lens through which Samburu view time and space, it is neither their only geographical model nor their only such lens. It is a model through which they explain certain kinds of things that have become important to them in the context of social and economic transformations, but it does not necessarily supplant other kinds of spatial models that are important to them as the means for looking at very different kinds of things. Adopting a binary spatial model does not, then, mean that they now look at space in exactly the way (we assume) Westerners dorather, it means that they have adopted a model for looking at capitalism and the state

that is consonant with their own understandings of these new developments. Thus, if one may explicate a Samburu geography of towns, roads, shops, and government chiefs, there exists, as well, a geography of ritual and sacred sites in which age-sets form in the same oneness with the deity that characterized the age-sets of their ancestors. There are geographies of land use and the utility of differing areas in the context of differing patterns of rain, drought, and livestock disease. Ethnic divisions, similarly, are a signicant principle in conceptualizing space both with regard to patterns of conict or cooperation with their neighbors and with regard to perceived similarities between Samburu in certain areas and their neighbors. These differing geographies do not correspond to a simple dichotomy of development and timeless tradition, for if geographies of development are specically marked as new, these other geographies are not, conversely, marked as unchanging. Pastoral land use, for instance, has always had a dynamic character, and Samburu are well aware of how contemporary changes in land tenure and restriction in areas designated as forest or wildlife reserves have affected grazing patterns. Moreover, just as new and indigenous geographies may often have little to do with each other, differing indigenous geographies do not constitute a single seamless whole. Thus, for instance, rituals associated with circumcision begin at Mount Ngiro in the north and pass through Ldonyo down to parts of the Lpurkel, while other rituals that are dependent on the neighboring Rendille emanate from the eastern Lpurkel and move west. Other scholars have similarly noted that there may be simultaneous but very different ways of thinking about space as it relates to broader processes. Thus Thomas (2002), for instance, cites three spatial nodes in contemporary Manambondro (Madagascar) models of space; river, road, and town constitute a Manambondro moral geography. Whereas the river is a centerpiece of historically and mythically constituted identity and the town locates difference along the lines of rural-urban and traditional-modern, the road represents both their present peripherality and their imaginings about the future.19 Approaching the issue from a somewhat different standpoint, Reuter (1999) draws on a Balinese case to problematize the spatial dichotomies inherent in many anthropological approaches to globalization. While identifying a salient Balinese spatial dichotomy of people of the mountains and people of the sea, he argues that these categories do not imply a naturalness to spatial models of marginalization. Arguing that mountain Balinese are simultaneously on the periphery and in the interior, he notes that while mountain-dwelling Balinese are marginalized in terms of the national political economy, they are simultaneously central to many aspects of Balinese identity and culture. These studies are both useful, though in somewhat different ways, in walking on the terrain of modernity without essentializing
19. Notably, however, Thomass differs from the present analysis by synthesizing these different maps largely around a single set of related meanings concerning a postcolonial moral geography.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 77

their arguments through that idiom. Thus Reuter, although working with a largely dichotomous model, suggests that this map can be read in different ways depending on the point of view of the reader. In contrast, Thomas identies different geographical foci in situating the varying meanings that simultaneously inform and are constructed by various perspectives on space. What do these multiple maps, in Samburu and elsewhere, suggest about the current anthropological interest in place-making? This literature has made important strides in enriching our understandings of the ways in which people construct the structure of feeling of locality (Williams 1973). What is problematic is the extent to which this question is foregroundedexplicitly or implicitlyby questions inherent in a global anthropology. What remains signicant about particular embodied places in an era in which the lives in these places are increasingly shaped by distant forces, processes, and events? How do people continue to construct locality in an era in which, on the face of it, its signicance seems diminished? These questions pregure the meaning of spatiality and, indeed, the types of spatiality that exist. There is, of course, nothing wrong with this as long as ones explicit purpose is to explicate those particular forms of spatiality. Yet, looking to forms of spatiality as a mode of cultural specicityor put in another way, looking to the local as a site of diversitysituates the pursuit of specicity in the very arenas that may be the most direct creation of the global. Let us suppose, for instance, that we wish to examine how a sense of place, the structure of feeling of being from Lodokejek (my principal highland research site), is constructed by its current inhabitants. First, we must ask where or what Lodokejek is. Lodokejek might well be dened in at least six distinct ways, some of them indigenous, some a function of the spatial models of colonial and postcolonial Kenya. Most specically, Lodokejek (meaning blood-red legs) refers to a reddish saltlick perhaps 50 m in length. Today, however, this name has largely been usurped by the town, about 1 km away. Lodokejek the town is a small trading center with about 20 small shops selling sugar, our, and other basic goods that borders a primary school and a fairly large Catholic mission founded in the 1980s. Notably, the indigenized name Lodokejek was imposed on it from the outside, the town having been known to Samburu simply as Marion for the Somali trader who opened the rst shop there. Samburu from the area will still occasionally refer to it as Marion, though more commonly simply as town. Lodokejek is also the name of an administrative sub-location and of a location that includes three other sub-locations and the name of a group ranch, a form of collective landownership instituted on pastoral lands by the Kenyan government in 1970s.20 One further way of talking about Lodokejek, indeed, in many ways belies the existence of Lodokejek as a place in any indigenous
20. Although today Lodokejek Group Ranch covers roughly the same area as Lodokejek Sub-Location, they are very different both functionally and administratively.

sense. Samburu who have not visited the area sometimes do not know that there is a Lodokejek at all but will be familiar with the name Nkorien, which refers to the prevalence of wild olive trees in the area. What is notable here is that of these six denitions of Lodokejek four are nonindigenous but socially signicant (town, sub-location/location, group ranch), while the other two are indigenous but socially insignicant (the salt-lick, the general geographical area). It is not the case that colonialism and postcolonialism have displaced indigenous social-spatial notions. Rather, they have in a sense created not only Samburu as local people but the very local places they inhabit. In the context of political-economic integration into the Kenyan state, Samburu have developed a specic localized version of the spatial models dichotomizing here and there in relation to capitalism and the state. I have sought to show that an important aspect of the globalization process is, in fact, the spread of the very spatialhistorical assumptions of globalization. Consequently, this study in many ways parallels recent studies of the migration of concepts like ethnicity (Comaroff and Comaroff 1992) and modernization (Ferguson 1999, Gupta 1998) from the realm of social science theory to that of ethnographic data and their increasing integration into our subjects own cultural explanations. Yet while these studies examine the ironic ethnographic centrality of such concepts at a time when their problematic nature is well recognized by social scientists, I suggest that anthropologists have not yet fully come to terms with troubling assumptions underlying global-local models. As a result, local renderings of such models have the capacity to reect our own assumptions in ways that destabilize those models themselves. Tsing (2000) has rightly suggested that we need to look at locally constructed models of the global as a means of understanding processes of globalization without assuming that their import is that which is suggested by their most vigorous proponents. I suggest here, conversely, that we must also examine incipient local understandings of the local both as an intrinsically signicant aspect of globalization and as a window into the very folk assumptions we ourselves bring to analyses of global processes. The spread of a global-local model is evidence not of the transcultural reality of globalization but of the hegemony of its discourses and practices. If a global perspective appears to encompass all things, it is worth remembering that this is not a universal, objective encompassment but the subjective perspective of those in a place of sufcient power and privilege to imagine the encompassment of others by their own worldview (Burawoy 2000). I am, therefore, concerned to highlight the ways in which the particular case outlined here speaks to the analytical space constructed through current anthropological concerns with the global and the local, whether or not discussed in those specic terms. Indeed, just as anthropologys earlier concern with segmentary lineage systems and the like told us as much about anthropologists as about the people they studied (Clifford and Marcus 1986), a concern with globalization

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

78 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

and transnational ows may similarly be seen to stem as much from our concerns as anthropologists in the early twenty-rst century as from the ethnographic imperative to elucidate the things that are most crucial in the lives of the particular people with whom we work. Thus, while I share a concern with understanding the ways in which the immediacies of peoples lives are shaped in conjunction with processes constituted, at least in part, at a regional, national, and global level, I suggest that we must approach analyses of these issues with a critical eye lest our studies be overly inuenced by our own global imaginings of ourselves. A globalization approach is one with a strong, universalizing point of view, one that suggests that the key processes operating in the world today are determined or overdeterminedmost signicantly by global forces as they are manifested in local contexts. The fact that a quintessentially local group has to a great degree incorporated the spatial models inherent in globalization speaks to the ubiquity of global processes. Yet it is important to understand that these models are contextual for them rather than universal. If Samburu nd these spatial models useful for understanding many things, there are many other things that have nothing to do with these models at all, and we must read a global anthropology in the same light. Globalization approaches encompass and in doing so assume the clothing of universality, but universality is a subjective, not an objective reality. Our own spatial models are, like those discussed in this essay, local models of the local.

harri englund Institute for Asian and African Studies, P.O. Box 59, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland (harri.englund@helsinki.). 3 x 03 In this important contribution to the anthropology of globalization, Holtzman is remarkably forthright about his difculties in dispensing with the metanarrative that forms the object of his critique. As he rightly remarks, the global-local distinction is an ideological export with global reach, and yet the spatial and temporal precedence it accords to the local is hard to avoid in ethnographic accounts committed to uncovering cultural diversity in an interconnected world. His argument oscillates from what is increasingly a commonplace critique in anthropology to something truly innovative. His account of the historical processes whereby the local among Samburu has been constituted by nonlocal forces and events is necessary and illuminating, but it also follows a welltrodden path complementary to those directions that explore diversity. Two sets of ethnographic observations, if developed further, might better bring out the innovative thrust of Holtzmans argument. The rst concerns those Samburu contexts that appear

distinct from the dichotomous geographical models that build on the notions of the global and the local. Holtzman shows, albeit briey, that these contexts have often produced only ephemeral equivalences between social and spatial categories, clearly at odds with the colonial and postcolonial efforts to x people to particular places. Examples include the mythological accounts of migratory movements, the nomadic roamings of the deity Nkai, the complex geographies of age-sets, and the importance of neighbors for dening ethnic similarities and differences. Holtzman avoids essentializing these indigenous geographies into a single model and emphasizes their potential to demonstrate that local-global or here-there dichotomies are not the only available models for thinking about time and space among Samburu. Yet the designation of these alternative geographies as indigenous begs the question of the sources and character of this diversity. Indigenous summons up the same temporal precedence as the local. Holtzmans account of alternatives to dichotomous models would benet from a consideration of their relations, how one set of models impinges on another, and whether the xing of people to particular places continues to be qualied by the kinds of practices that he describes under the rubric of indigenous geographies. In the absence of a more explicitly relational analysis, Holtzmans argument risks being entangled in the very spatial and temporal dichotomies that he seeks to denaturalize. The other set of ethnographic observations that I want to touch upon concerns the uses to which Samburu put the ubiquitous local-global, here-there distinctions. Here Holtzman makes the salient observation that even if these distinctions are global exports, their meanings and uses are diverse. His notes on the dichotomies between town and country, whiteness and blackness, the way of the government and the way of the Samburu, development and local/African ways, and so on, emphasize their contextual applications. I am intrigued by his claim that there is a growing tendency for Samburu to adopt a new identity based in underdevelopment. It resonates with a variety of contemporary African contexts, with studies from South-Central Africa, for example, highlighting the desires that accompany such identities (Englund 2003, Ferguson 1999, Simpson 2003). Perhaps the issue is less whether Samburu embrace ideologies of development than what desires those ideologies enable them to express. A self-image that stresses underdevelopment can make the external or the global into a resource, with us here becoming the dependents of others elsewheredependence as a mode of action (Bayart 2000). Seen from another perspective, it can also collapse the boundaries between here and there by conjuring into being a global order to which moral appeals can be directed (Ferguson 2002). Whatever the case in Samburu District, identities that revolve around the ideologies of development and underdevelopment are an apposite context for elaborating the more innovative aspects of Holtzmans argument. They relativize further the universalist pretensions of metropolitan globalism and enable ethnographers to explore, in Holtzmans words, the terrain

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 79

of modernity without essentializing their arguments through that idiom. I would hope that these remarks are not simply asking for more details in an already dense essay. The ways in which ethnographers may account for diversity in an interconnected world lie at the core of their increasingly common unease with the global-local distinction. Holtzmans argument about the spatial and temporal dimensions of the local represents a milestone in this literature. What remains is to develop the argument with those ethnographic instances that most directly speak to it, forever mindful of the persuasive metanarrative that makes us attend to certain questions in the rst place. In this endeavor, a focus on indigenous models hardly provides an alternative perspective unless those models are analyzed in conjunction with the global exports that appear to advance dichotomous geographies. And much can be learnt about the global exports when, as Holtzman suggests, the desire they promote for development is understood to assume strikingly different forms in particular contexts. elliot fratkin Department of Anthropology, Smith College, Northampton, MA 01063, U.S.A. (efratkin@smith.edu). 6 x 03 There is much that I agree with here, particularly on the way in which Samburu conceptualize time, space, and development. I also agree with Holtzman that Samburu have a conceptual model for looking at development and the state that is not inconsistent with Western understandings. While they may not use the terms global/local (although Samburu academics may), individual Samburu whom I knowrural and urban, herder and farmerutilize an insider/outsider perspective as indeed do all cultures. Many Samburu view Kenya as something distant, foreign, and dangerous; in turn, the cosmopolitan and agricultural populations around Nairobi, Kisumu, and Mombasa commonly perceive the north as a distant and dangerous place unrelated to the rest of the country. One of the more important dichotomies raised by Holtzman is that of highland and lowland. Among Ariaal, a mixed Samburu/Rendille people who live in Marsabit District, east of Samburu, the highlands are seen as the location of towns, development, multiethnic communities, and government. They are also viewed as cold places, good for cattle but not camels or goats, for maize farms but not large livestock herds. Socially, lowland Ariaal often characterize highland Samburu as lazy or rich, people who dont need to move around much with their animals. In turn, I have heard highland Samburu speak of lowland Ariaal and Rendille as beggars who are always seeking favors from their Samburu kin. But these lowland herders are also recognized as tough ghters; indeed, the northern lowlands are viewed by settled highlanders (Samburu included) as a more dangerous place where much of the livestock raiding and

ghting occurs. This is certainly true between Turkana and Samburu and Pokot and Turkana to the northeast and Boran and Somali and Rendille and Ariaal to the northwest. Ethnicity and incorporation are topics of high currency in Kenya, particularly during national elections. As Holtzman notes, there has historically been tension between pastoral Samburu (as well as Maasai) and the agricultural Kikuyu of the central highlands. While he mentions the murder of a white rancher by four Samburu warriors in the 1930s, this incident was related to a much larger killing of Kikuyu who labored on white-owned farms in Laikipia District and was used, unsuccessfully, by white settlers to rally support for their occupation of Samburu lands on the Leroghi Plateau (see AtienoOdhiambo 1971 and Duder and Simpson 1997). Holtzmans local/global distinction may be a variant of Samburu conceptions of insider/outsider and not necessarily a distinction of tradition and capitalist integration. Certainly Samburu and Maasai have been trading and selling livestock to outsiders for a very long time, and schools and wage employment are not so foreign as may appear. In this way, Samburus conceptualization of local/global may indeed be close to that of Westerners, as Holtzman argues. gu nther schlee Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, P.O. Box 110351, 06017 Halle/Saale, Germany (schlee@ eth.mpg.de). 26 ix 03 Holtzmans subtitle, Models of Time and Space, is slightly misleading. Time comes in only insofar as spatial categories or spatial metaphors for social types are linked to periods of time. The local, in local views, tends to be characterized as outdated and thus stands for an earlier time. Apart from this, the paper is basically about spatial distinctions. An equally detailed treatment of Samburu models of time in its own right would have necessitated going much more deeply into the system of age-grades, ideas of the equivalence of alternating generations, the prognostic calendar, and the effects that the introduction of the Gregorian calendar may have had on all this, among other things. Apart from this minor criticism, the paper deserves mostly praise. With anecdotal evidence from all over Kenya and then focusing on the Samburu District, Holtzman shows that there is not one monolithic universal globality standing in contrast to as many forms of the local as there are localities but rather each local view of the local is constructed in contrast to those particular elements of the global that become relevant in the particular local context. The local thus might be locally believed to be old but in reality is constantly reconstructed as new variants of the global come in. The observations he adduces to substantiate this point are rich. His arguments about the global and the local and similar dichotomies are interwoven with historical observations about the colonial division of territories, ritual topog-

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

80 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

raphy, and nomadic versus sedentary perceptions of space. Each of these topics would have deserved fuller treatment, but this might have gone beyond the scope of an article. The application of the nation-state mode and a miniature scale to tribal districts has had profound effects on the Samburu and their neighbours. These boundaries, drawn in the colonial period, are still used for economic discrimination. There are quarantine belts, and nomadic cattle are kept off the market by closing district boundaries whenever this suits the interests of the sedentary ranchers to the south (Falkenstein 1995, Simpson 1998, references in Aguilar 1998 on Kenya, and, for the politics and economics of spatial divisions in two West African settings, Danger and Pelican 2002). Perceptions of space associated with mobile forms of use have been discussed in terms of more basic categories by Ingold (1986:150). Do forms of land tenure always refer to two-dimensional, bounded surface areas, or is there also zero-dimensional tenure? Cultural meanings of the environment (Croll and Parkin 1992) have also been discussed in connection with land rights and resource conicts by Shipton (1994). This article contains a good overview of the pre-1994 literature on this topic from all across Africa. Against this background it appears that Holtzman, in spite of his repeated mention of capitalism, could have focused somewhat more on the economic implications of spatial divisions and the material side of life. paul spencer School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Thornhaugh St., Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG, U.K. (paul.spencer100@virgin.net). 22 viii 03 My glib view of the stability of Samburu society after eldwork in the 1950s60s was bound to be overtaken by events (Spencer 1965:312). Yet the persistence of institutions and adherence to traditional ideals among the nomadic lowlanders is a remarkable tribute to their resilience, and it is a paradox of the present account that this should concern an area where Samburu herds have experienced such severe declines. One response is to question whether this arid lowland area could ever have supported larger herds than it does today (Spencer 1973: 181) and whether the Samburu had ever been among the worlds wealthiest known livestock keepers before they moved onto the vacated Leroghi Plateau in colonial times. However, this article is concerned with the wider issue, noting the shift in the balance of advantage within Samburu District as a whole because of the growing domination of capitalist forces on the plateau and in the towns. Elaborating on this, it is not just that some of the best dry-season pastureland and vital water resources have been taken over by commercial development; there has also been unprecedented population growth throughout Kenya under modern conditions, creating a surplus

that cannot be accommodated on the land. Widespread immigration to mushrooming towns, including those in Samburu District, has coincided with the steady drift of cultivators into the less fertile areas, intensifying the pressure on the land. Pastoralists such as the Samburu nd themselves pushed farther towards the semidesert or urban areas, creating the dichotomies described in this article (Spencer 1998:21420, 22630). Holtzman focuses on the extent to which the historical growth of capitalism is experienced as a contemporary issue, displaying contrasting lifestyles and ideologies in sedentary as opposed to nomadic areas. While he provides a useful elaboration of this spatial aspect, I would step backward and reiterate the dichotomy as a process in time, which is the experience of all older Samburu on both sides of the divide. Not only do they have a personal view of the region that they have traversed as moran and as nomads but they have a very strong sense of time that is structured by their age-set system. The ceremonial cycles of successive age-sets provide the throb of social existence. Men and women experience these in an ascending sequence of roles associated with maturation and aging, and they exchange memories of them anecdotally as vivid nodes in a developing career. My contemporaries of Kimaniki age-set would have experienced the changes described here in terms of a society in transition with an uncertain future and reaching back uncertainly to a dimly perceived past, when change was always on the horizon and tradition was never quite static. The Samburu are a very time-conscious people, and the dynamics of their age organization over this period of change deserves attention. The age-set system is their life careers, and their anecdotal evidence is the stuff of anthropology. Holtzmans concern for a more particularistic approach to globalization, viewing the process from a variety of Samburu points of view in space and time, echoes the claim that anthropology has the choice between being history and being nothing (Evans-Pritchard 1962:26). This exposes a dilemma facing anthropologists. How do we strike a balance between documenting the uniqueness of our eld experience and generalizing our ndings to enhance our understanding? We often criticize historians for being too particularistic in their concern for interpreting detail, and we in our turn tend to be mistrusted by historians for overstretching our material in our discourse over theoretical fashions that masquerade as ultimate truths. When studying lowland Samburu pastoralists, shared institutions and nomadism ensure a widespread uniformity and the particular does not have to reach down as far as each individual family or village, offering the opportunity for generalization up to a point. But this does not offset the need to marshal a wider variety of evidence to pursue the argument, and here I suggest that we anthropologists should humbly take note of the practice of historians, who cite their sources with full pagination as a matter of routine. To the extent that this article is intended as a work of scholarship and not a eldwork report, the references are obscured by their pageless starkness, for the curious readers time is too

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 81

precious to search through every listed book or article for the relevant passages. My point is not to raise details of disagreement here but to emphasize that each documentary source that is cited to back up a claim should be made accessible by giving sufcient detail. On the whole, historians do this whereas anthropologists tend not to, and the present article is no exception. Citing a source is part of a learning process, and in my personal experience searching for the relevant pages can often lead to a renement of the argument. Moreover, it opens up this argument by not presenting the reader with a haystack of hidden needles. When the Samburu track a missing cow, they are quite specic about its characteristics, and we should do the same with our sources. This is a plea for a tighter approach to scholastic discipline within anthropology that would contribute to a more fruitful interplay extending to colleagues in collateral elds.

jon holtzman Kalamazoo, MI, U.S.A. 15 x 03 I am grateful for the thoughtful comments on this article. Three of the commentators (Fratkin, Schlee, and Spencer) focus principally on its ethnographic dimensions, while one (Englund) is most directly concerned with issues arising from the articles theoretical dimensions as both a case study in and a critique of global anthropology. All these rich commentaries are helpful in suggesting further dimensions which might fruitfully be explored. The observations of Paul Spencer are particularly appreciated, and his gracious recognition of changes in Samburu in the four decades since he conducted his seminal eldwork there should not be allowed to obscure the continuing importance of his work and his ideas in shaping the ethnography of East African pastoralists. I will speak rst to some of the ethnographic issues raised by these commentaries before engaging with the more theoretically oriented comments. In somewhat different ways, both Schlee and Spencer constructively suggest the possibility of further elaborating the time dimension of the article. Schlee notes that the time dimension is relatively muted in comparison with the discussion of space. Spencer makes the important observation that Samburu construct time in relation to a keenly attuned historical consciousness which is framed differently by men and women of different generations, who stand in a different relation to historical processes by virtue both of their structural positions in Samburu society and the details of their individual biographies. Both Schlee and Spencer suggest potentially useful avenues through which to explore more nuanced alternative multiple versions of time, just as I have attempted to present alternative multiple models of space. Yet I would argue that in the Samburu case the relationship of these more subtle and complex forms of historical

consciousness is often tangential to the spatial-temporal models upon which I most directly focus. Just as the spatial dimensions of Samburu instantiations of localglobal models tend to construct rather dichotomous here-there renderings of space, within these models Samburu temporally construct a similarly dichotomous nowthen rendering of time. This is forcefully expressed in Samburu constructs of a rupture between a life of development and the life of long ago, though informants may be quite uid in xing exactly when long ago ended and development began. Thus, for instance, my own contemporaries (members of the Lkiroro age-set, initiated in 1976) construct accounts of the decay of respect among todays murran which are remarkably similar to the accounts constructed by Spencers contemporaries (Lkimaniki, initiated around 1948) and encompass the misdeeds of the Lkiroro themselves. I would suggest that the more complex form of historical consciousness to which Schlee and Spencer point actually modies this dichotomous time far less than one might intuitively suspect. However, I see a relational analysis of these varying Samburu temporal constructions to be a worthwhile endeavor largely parallel to the spatial analysis I present here. Schlee also suggests that I might have spoken more to the economic implications of these spatial models. In other ways Fratkin and Englund raise questionsto varying extents and with varying degrees of directnessconcerning what is at stake in relation to these temporalspatial models. These are important questions in illustrating that I am not seeking to present the adoption of dichotomous spatial models simply as a mentalistic paradigm shift descriptive of the changing social and economic relationships involved in capitalism and pastoral sedentarization. Rather, these are active, living models which Samburu nd useful to describe certain things (though not other things) and which are integrally intertwined with contestations of identities and resources in Samburu District today. Englund correctly identies, for instance, the signicance of these models in relation to the adoption of an identity of underdevelopment as a means of conjuring into being a global order to which moral appeals can be directed that is evident in the veritable explosion of locally based, Samburu-run NGOs since my rst major eldwork in Samburu District in 199294. In a rather different vein, these spatial-temporal models are implicated in the literal division of space as well. For instance, in the colonial period and beyond, private land was typically allocated to the Samburu who appeared to be the most forward-looking. Today, the unequal division of common resources of the past can be ideologically justied by the contention that the owners of these prime highland areas are more developed and therefore use it more efciently than would Samburu from less enlightened regions. The uses for which varyingly positioned Samburu employ this model are, then, both signicant and complex. Englunds comments focus most directly on the theoretical dimensions of the article and raise particularly productive questions concerning my use of indigenous

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

82 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

as one term to describe those aspects of Samburu geographies that are not a direct result of their interpolation of the local-global models upon which this article most directly focuses. I agree that indigenous can be potentially problematic for a number of reasons which are both linguistic and conceptual. In regard to the former, not least of these is its insinuation into political debates in nations such as Kenya that are home to both UN-designated indigenous peoplessuch as Samburu, Maasai, and Okiekand indigenes such as Kikuyu who are not so dened because of their greater enculturation in Euro-American practices. Indeed, had space allowed, deeper engagement with issues that emerge from recent Kenyan discourses on indigenousness would have been a fruitful area of expansion of the models I explore in this article. At the level of language, then, Englund rightly highlights a difculty confronting anthropologists that I will not claim to have wholly escaped. Unless we wish to be in the business of constantly inventing ugly neologisms for concepts we already more or less grasp, we necessarily write through language that is potentially burdened by cultural connotations at odds with the analysis that we seek to undertake. It is less important to abandon such languagewhether it be local, indigenous, or some other potentially problematic termthan to be cognizant of such cultural baggage in order to avoid the insinuation of these problematic subtexts into the conceptual frameworks of our analyses. The conceptual issues involved in Englunds discomfort with my use of indigenousness are perhaps more debatable. He suggests that my characterization of some Samburu geographies as indigenous summons up the same temporal precedence as the local. This raises central tensions in any analysis that has temporal qualities. Some things necessarily bear more or less resemblance to earlier practices even as they are recongured by their new relationship to other practices and ideas in the contemporary context. The problem here is not one of making an argument concerning the signicance of temporal precedence per se, any more than my argument concerning problematic aspects of the local denies that certain practices or ideas have a historical and cultural pedigree that is more Lodokejek than London. There is no denial of coevalness intrinsic to acknowledging that something signicant can be learned by examining how varying contemporary practices differ with regard to their geographical sources and considering the relation of contemporary to historical practices. I am not certain if I am correct in reading into Englunds comments a call for a more synchronic analysisin contrast to Spencers evocation of Evans-Pritchards assertion of anthropologys choice between being history or nothing. Fratkins comments concerning the possible relation of current here-there dichotomies to earlier forms of identity formations among Kenyan northern pastoralists are a good example of why we need to be attuned to the possibilities of continuities when constructing

arguments concerning historical causation (as Englunds own work also attests). More pointedly, I see in Englunds comments on indigenousness suggestions which may be quite useful in eshing out some of the articles material but not necessarily in ways that are wholly consonant with its broader goals. I see this most directly in his call for a more relational analysis between those geographies which I term as indigenous and the globallocal models which have been adopted and adapted over perhaps the past half-century or so. I hope that I have been successful in emphasizing that these indigenous geographies are not unchanging and exist in interaction with geographies predicated on herethere dichotomies. But I would also contend that there is something important in understanding how each model may unfold with its own logic, within a relatively discrete sphere of signicance upon which other geographical models may sometimes impinge only tangentially. I am consequently troubled by Englunds assertion that a focus on indigenous models hardly provides an alternative perspective unless those models are analyzed in conjunction with the global exports that appear to advance dichotomous geographies. Certainly such a relational analysis of varying Samburu geographies could be fruitfully explored in more depth. Nonetheless, this suggestion evokes (perhaps unintentionally) the totalizing discourses of globalization which I nd most problematic in a global anthropology. At the risk of essentializing our diverse eld, I would argue that in recent decades we have seen a shift in anthropologys dominant meta-narrative from an exploration of human diversity to a kind of anthropology of the victors in which increasingly our research questions and our analyses are singularly dened by what we construe (rightly or wrongly) to be rapidly changing facts-on-the-ground driven by powerful but frequently problematic macrolevel processes. Such analyses can be vitally important in buttressing the relevance of anthropology by focusing our disciplinary lens on issues of immediate signicance, and they are rightfully the cornerstone of important forms of anthropological inquiry. My concern lies more with what I have argued are the hegemonic aspects of a global discourse. Even if the global may be read into any idea or activity, this is not necessarily the reading which is most illuminating, most consonant with our subjects own understandings of their worlds, or most accurate in characterizing the objective conditions of their lives. Thus, while acknowledging that there are ways in which these indigenous geographies may be fruitfully explored in relation to global ones, I see analytical utility in emphasizing the ways in which these other geographies are not centrally ordered in relation to those modeled on here-there dichotomies as a way of avoiding the limitations of an overly encompassing global view.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

h o l t z m a n The Local in the Local F 83

References Cited
a g u i l a r , m a r i o i . Editor. 1998. The politics of age and gerontocracy in Africa: Ethnographies of the past and memories of the present. Trenton, N.J., and Asmara, Eritrea: Africa World Press. [gs] a n d e r s o n , d a v i d . 1982. Herder, settler, and colonial rule: A history of the peoples of the Baringo Plains, circa 18901940. Ph.D. diss., Cambridge University, Cambridge, England. a p p a d u r a i , a r j u n . 1988. Putting hierarchy in its place. Cultural Anthropology 3:3649. . 1996. Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. a t i e n o - o d h i a m b o , e . s . 1971. The Song of the Vultures: A case study of misconceptions about nationalism in Kenya. Journal of Eastern Africa Research 1:11213. [ef] bayart, jean-franc o i s . 2000. Africa in the world: A history of extraversion. African Affairs 99:21767. [he] b e i d e l m a n , t . o . 1982. Colonial evangelism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. be teille, andre . 1998. The idea of indigenous people. current anthropology 39:18791. b i g e n h o , m i c h e l l e . 1999. Sensing locality in Yura: Rituals of Carnival and of the Bolivian state. American Ethnologist 26: 95780. b u r a w o y, m i c h a e l . 2000. Grounding globalization, in Global ethnography: Forces, connections, and imaginations in a postmodern world. Edited by Michael Burawoy, pp. 33750. Berkeley: University of California Press. c h e n e v i x - t r e n c h , c h a r l e s . 1964. The deserts dusty face. Edinburgh: W. Blackwood. . 1993. The men who ruled Kenya. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. c l i f f o r d , j a m e s . 1994. Diasporas. Cultural Anthropology 9: 30238. c l i f f o r d , j a m e s , a n d g e o r g e m a r c u s . Editors. 1986. Writing culture: The politics and poetics of ethnography. Berkeley: University of California Press. c p k ( c o l o n y a n d p r o t e c t o r a t e o f k e n y a ) . 1923. Samburu District annual report. Kenya National Archives, Nairobi. . 1928. Samburu District handing over reports. Kenya National Archives, Nairobi. . 1933. Samburu District annual report. Kenya National Archives, Nairobi. . 1952. Samburu District annual report. Kenya National Archives, Nairobi. . 1953. Samburu District annual report. Kenya National Archives, Nairobi. . 1957. Samburu District intelligence report (August). Kenya National Archives, Nairobi. . 1961. Report of the working party on the manufacture and sale of liquor. Kenya National Archives, Nairobi. c o m a r o f f , j e a n . 1985. Body of power, spirit of resistance. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. c o m a r o f f , j e a n , a n d j o h n c o m a r o f f . 1991. Of revelation and revolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. . 1992. Totemism and ethnicity, in Ethnography and the historical imagination. Edited by Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff. Boulder: Westview Press. c r o l l , e l i s a b e t h , a n d d a v i d p a r k i n . Editors. 1992. Bush base, forest farm: Culture, environment, and development. London and New York: Routledge. [gs] d a f i n g e r , a n d r e a s , a n d m i c h a e l a p e l i c a n . 2002. Land rights and politics of integration: Pastoralist strategies in a comparative view. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Working Papers 48. [gs] d i r l i k , a r l i f . 1997. The postcolonial aura. Boulder: Westview Press. d u d e r , c . j . , a n d g e o r g e l . s i m p s o n . 1997. Land and murder in colonial Kenya: The Leroghi land dispute and the

Powys murder case. Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 25:44065. [ef] e n g l u n d , h a r r i . 2002. Ethnography after globalism. American Ethnologist 29:26186. . 2003. Christian independency and global membership: Pentecostal extraversions in Malawi. Journal of Religion in Africa 33(1):83111. [he] e n g l u n d , h a r r i , a n d j a m e s l e a c h . 2000. Ethnography and metanarratives of modernity. current anthropology 41: 22548. e n s m i n g e r , j . , a n d a . r u t t e n . 1987. The politics of changing property rights: Dismantling the commons from within. Paper presented at the Workshop on Changing Rights in Property and Pastoral Rights, Manchester University, Manchester, England. e s c o b a r , a r t u r o . 1995. Encountering development: The making and unmaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press. e v a n s - p r i t c h a r d , e . e . 1956. Nuer religion. Oxford: Clarendon Press. . 1962. Essays in social anthropology. London: Faber. [ps] f a b i a n , j o h a n n e s . 1983. Time and the Other. New York: Columbia University Press. f a l k e n s t e i n , m a r t i n . 1995. Concepts of ethnicity and inter-ethnic migration among the Ariaal of Kenya. Zeitschrift fu r Ethnologie 120:20125. [gs] f e r g u s o n , j a m e s . 1999. Expectations of modernity: Myths and meanings of urban life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Berkeley: University of California Press. . 2002. Of mimicry and membership: Africans and the New World Society. Cultural Anthropology 17:55169. [he] f o r b e s , a n n e . 1999. Mapping power: Disputing claims to Kipat land in northeastern Nepal. American Ethnologist 26: 11438. f o u c a u l t , m i c h e i . 1984. Space, power, knowledge, in The Foucault reader. Edited by Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon. f r a t k i n , e l l i o t . 1998. Ariaal pastoralists of northern Kenya. Needham, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon. f u m a g a l l i , c a r l o . 1977. A diachronic study of change and sociocultural processes among the pastoral nomadic Samburu of Kenya, 19001975. Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, N.Y. g e e r t z , c l i f f o r d . 1983. Local knowledge. New York: Basic Books. g r e w a l , i n d e r p a l , a n d c a r e n k a p l a n . Editors. 1994. Scattered hegemonies. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. g u p t a , a k h i l . 1998. Postcolonial developments. Durham: Duke University Press. g u p t a , a k h i l , a n d j a m e s f e r g u s o n . Editors. 1997. Culture, power, place: Explorations in critical anthropology. Durham: Duke University Press. h a l l , s t u a r t . 1992. The West and the rest: Discourse and power, in Formations of modernity. Edited by Stuart Hall and Bram Gieben, pp. 275320. Oxford: Polity. h a n n e r z , u l f . 1996. Transnational connections. London: Routledge. h a r v e y, d a v i d . 2001. Spaces of capital. New York: Routledge. h o d g s o n , d o r o t h y. 2001. Once intrepid warriors. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. h o l t z m a n , j o n d . 1996. Transformations in Samburu domestic economy. Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. . 2001. The food of elders, the ration of women: Brewing, gender, and domestic processes among Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya. American Anthropologist 103:104158. . 2003. In a cup of tea: Commodities and history among Samburu pastoralists in northern Kenya. American Ethnologist 30:13659. i n g o l d , t i m . 1987. The appropriation of nature: Essays on

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

84 F c u r r e n t a n t h ro p o l o g y Volume 45, Number 1, February 2004

human ecology and social relations. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. [gs] k a s f i r , s y d n e y. n.d. Transformations in African warriorhood. MS. k e a r n e y, m i c h a e l . 1995. The local and the global: The anthropology of globalization and transnationalism. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:54765. k e n y a t t a , j o m o . 1962 (1938). Facing Mount Kenya: The tribal life of the Gikuyu. New York: Random House. k i p u r i , n a o m i . n.d. Indigenous peoples in Kenya: An overview. MS. l e s o r o g o l , c a r o l y n . 2002. Cutting up the commons: The political economy of land privatization among the Samburu of Kenya. Ph.D. diss., Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. l i t t l e , p e t e r . 1987. Domestic production and regional markets in northern Kenya. American Ethnologist 14:295308. . 1992. The elusive granary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. m e r t o n , r o b e r t . 1957. Social theory and social structure. Glencoe: Free Press. m e t c a l f , p e t e r . 2001. Global disjuncture and the sites of anthropology. Cultural Anthropology 16:16582. m i l l e r , d a n i e l . 1995. Introduction, in Worlds apart: Modernity through the prism of the local. Edited by Daniel Miller, pp. 122. London: Routledge. m i n t z , s i d n e y. 1998. The localization of anthropological practice: From area studies to transnationalism. Critique of Anthropology 18:11733. m i t c h e l l , t i m o t h y. 1988. Colonizing Egypt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. m o o r e , d o n a l d . 1998. Subaltern struggles and the politics of space: Remapping resistance in Zimbabwes Eastern Highlands. Cultural Anthropology 13:34481. . 1999. The crucible of cultural politics: Reworking development in Zimbabwes Eastern Highlands. American Ethnologist 26:65489. o r t n e r , s h e r r y. 1984. Theory in anthropology since the sixties. Comparative Studies in Society and History 26:12666. p a r s o n s , t i m o t h y. 1999. The African rank-and-le. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann. p i o t , c h a r l e s . 1999. Remotely global: Village modernity in West Africa. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. r a f f l e s , h u g h . 1999. Local theory: Nature and the making of an Amazonian place. Cultural Anthropology 14:32360. r a i n y, m i c h a e l e . 1989. Samburu ritual symbolism: An adaptive interpretation of pastoralist traditions. Social Science Information 28:78519. r e d f i e l d , r o b e r t . 1941. Folk culture of the Yucatan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. r e u t e r , t h o m a s . 1999. People of the mountains, people of the sea: Negotiating the local and the foreign in Bali, in Staying local in the global village. Edited by Raechelle Rubinstein and Linda Connor. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. s c h n e i d e r , h a r o l d . 1959. Pokot resistance to change, in Continuity and change in African cultures. Edited by W. Bascom and M. Herskovitz, pp. 14467. Chicago: Phoenix Books. s h i p t o n , p a r k e r . 1994. Land and culture in tropical Africa: Soils, symbols, and the metaphysics of the mundane. Annual Review of Anthropology 23:34777. [gs] s i m p s o n , a n t h o n y. 2003. Half London in Zambia: Contested identities in a Catholic mission school. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press for the International African Institute. [he]

s i m p s o n , g e o r g e l . 1998. Gerontocrats and colonial alliances, in The politics of age and gerontocracy in Africa: Ethnographies of the past and memories of the present. Edited by Mario I. Aguilar, pp. 6596. Trenton, N.J. and Asmara, Eritrea: Africa World Press. [gs] s o b a n i a , n e a l . 1980. The historical tradition of the peoples of the eastern Lake Turkana Basin. Ph.D. diss., University of London, London, England. . 1988. Pastoralist migration and colonial policy, in The ecology of survival. Edited by Douglas Johnson and David Anderson, pp. 21939. London: Crooke Greene. s o j a , e d w a r d . 1968. The geography of modernization in Kenya: A spatial analysis of social, economic, and political change. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press. . 1989. Postmodern geographies. New York: Verso Press. s p e n c e r , p a u l . 1965. The Samburu. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. . 1973. Nomads in alliance. London: Oxford University Press. . 1998. The pastoral continuum: The marginalization of tradition in East Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press. [ps] s p e n c e r , i a n . 1983. Pastoralism and colonial policy in Kenya, 18951929, in Imperialism, colonialism, and hunger. Edited by R. Rotberg, pp. 11340. Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books. s p e r l i n g , l o u i s e . 1987. Wage employment among Samburu pastoralists of north-central Kenya. Research in Economic Anthropology 9:16790. s t i g a n d , c . h . 1910. To Abysinnia through unknown lands. New York: Negro University Press. s t r a i g h t , b i l i n d a . 1997. Altered landscapes, shifting strategies. Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. . 2000. Development ideologies and local knowledge among Samburu women in northern Kenya, in Rethinking pastoralism in Africa: Gender, culture, and the myth of the patriarchal pastoralist. Edited by Dorothy Hodgson. Oxford: James Currey. . 2002a. From Samburu heirloom to New Age artifact: The cross-cultural consumption of Mporo marriage beads. American Anthropologist 104:115. . 2002b. Killing God. Paper presented at the African Studies Association meetings, Washington, D.C. t h o m a s , p h i l i p . 2002. The river, the road, and the rural-urban divide: A moral geography from southeast Madagascar. American Ethnologist 29:36691. t s i n g , a n n a . 1993. In the realm of the diamond queen: Marginality in an out-of the-way place. Princeton: Princeton University Press. . 2000. The global situation. Cultural Anthropology 15: 32760. w e i s m a n t e l , m a r y. 1988. Food, gender, and poverty in the Ecuadorian Andes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. w i l l i a m s , r a y m o n d . 1973. The country and the city. Oxford: Oxford University Press. . 1977. Marxism and literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. w o l f , e r i c . 1982. Europe and the people without history. Berkeley: University of California Press. z i r b e l , k a t h e r i n e . 2000. Playing it both ways, in Mass mediations. Edited by Walter Armbrust, pp. 12045. Berkeley: University of California Press.

This content downloaded from on Mon, 10 Feb 2014 08:56:25 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions