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Xhosa Beer Drinking Rituals

Power, Practice and Performance in the South African Rural Periphery

Patrick A. McAllister
eISBN-13: 9781531010867

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The consumption of indigenous beer is a widespread and long-standing feature of many African societies, a practice of both historical and contemporary significance. Among the rural, Xhosa-speaking people of South Africas Eastern Cape province, maize beer became increasingly important in the context of early twentieth century colonialism, and a range of new beer drinking rituals developed. This coincided with state neglect of black rural areas and with economic and demographic changes that led to the emergence of co-operative relations within neighbourhood groups as a vital element of homestead production.

With the entrenchment of the apartheid regime from the late 1940s onward, the maintenance of a rural homestead, agricultural practices, and an agrarian lifestyle became one way to resist the injustices of apartheid and fuller incorporation into the wider society. In this respect, beer rituals became a crucial mechanism through which to develop and maintain rural social and economic relations, to inculcate the values that supported these, and to provide a viable though fragile view of the world that afforded an alternative to the disillusionment and suffering associated with black urban areas. Using an anthropological analysis based on a combination of Bourdieus practice theory with the anthropology of performance, this book demonstrates the way beer drinking rituals worked towards these aims, the various types of rituals that developed, and how they sought to instill a rural Xhosa habitus in the face of almost overwhelming odds.

Sold By Carolina Academic Press
ISBNs 9780890890219, 0890890218, 9781531010867, 1531010865
Language English
Number of Pages 378