Among the monographs found in the Culture and Ecology in East Africa Project is that of the work of Walter Goldschmit, entitled “The Sebei: A Study in Adaptiona. ” It is among the ethnographic studies conducted to shed light on a particular community, which is that of Sebei. The project previously mentioned to which the monograph belongs is that of the University of California in Los Angeles which also carries the research design that was followed by the entire project (Mead 938).
It has become important to evaluate this study because of the important role it plays in the field of ethnography and in the lives of the Sebei people. This paper will include the synopsis, a critique of the book, and the relationship with the materials and discussions found in the class. Synopsis of the Book The book primarily focuses on the people of Sebei, the socio-economic modes followed by the people there, and the adaptations which has happened throughout the existence of the community. People from Sebei speak Nilotic and have a connection with the Nandi and Kipsigis (MacGaffey 110).
These people lives in the southeastern portion of Uganda and the elements of this community which has been discussed include the “history, environment, policy, social organization, animal husbandry, agriculture, a cash economy, sexual roles and marriage, child rearing, initiation, and the Sebei belief system” (Beidelman 542). The wide variety of the factors that have been covered in the study has been instrumental to the focus of the book, which is that of the ways of living of the people and how they have economically survived the environment they lived in.
There are two environments which have been considered in the book to show the adaptive processes of the community under study. One is the area which is well-watered and is situated in the slopes of the mountains and the second is in the dry lands of the plains. With the conditions found in the said communities, there are also adaptive measures which have been taken by the people in terms of the production of their food and ways of living.
One community concentrated on the hunting and gathering means of production because of the factors in the environment which makes this the most acceptable form of gathering food and sustaining the needs of the community. On the other hand, it is agriculture which has become the primary mode of economic production followed because of the availability of fertile soil that could be used for crops. Moreover, access to water is available that makes this a better option for the people.
More so, it is seen to be the most effective in consideration of the available resources and conditions for the people. Economics-wise, this is the best methods for the respective communities discussed. Through time, it has been proven that Sebei people have the capability to adapt easily to changes in their environment and new situations which they are placed in (Mead 938). It has been shown in the book that the people have been able to be in contact with the Europeans when this group has been in a point where they are trying to adapt with the demands brought about by intra-African connections.
The flexibility in adapting to such cultures has been carried out by the group by following the previous methods which have been used before by the group. It has been proven to be an effective pattern for the people since their first interaction with other cultures. Critique of the Book This particular book can be considered as one of the best monographs that have been written of an Ugandan community because of its succinctness and thoroughness. The ability of the author to present facts and data near what is real is considered to be a vital element of the author’s work.
The author’s ability to record and research the past of the community has been helpful. The author, himself, has done quite an extensive job in proving the authenticity of his claims where there are primary evidences, such as photos, that has been shown together with the narratives provided. In writing a book, the ability of the author to provide evidences, especially in the field of ethnography, is considered to be vital in establishing the credibility and authenticity of the monograph.
In a sense, this adds to the ability of the monograph to convince its readers that what is being said and shown in the account is true. Moreover, the book has shown one community but the picture that has been drawn and what has been learned over the discussions made of the particular community studied can be used in order to understand the African perspective. More so, the means of adoption that has been studied can be taken to a larger picture where it is also seen to exist in other areas and in different times.
It has been found that the general perspective that can be used in order to interpret that of the Sebei culture is that “the maladies of the social system seem to outweigh their strengths” (Goldschmidt 338). With this particular statement, the author is then able to show that he has been able to observe the communities with a keen eye and relate it to the rest of the elements in the environment that surround the community. The author does not simply focus on what can be found within the community but also observes how it relates to the different links formed.
More so, there is judgment that is found for these relationships from where a strong conclusion can be made. This monograph serves as a very good reading material for the members of the academic institutions and the epistemic communities from a wide variety of fields. Where field observations and thorough data collection has been done, there is the worthiness of examining the material and using it as a foundation of different researches. More so, an understanding of the different elements of the community can be easily derived through a reading of this material because of the substantial data that can be found here.
This is not only for the purpose of studying communities but can also be taken by people from different fields such as psychology, economics, policy-making, sociology, and others in order to make researches and decisions. Relation to Class Materials and Discussions Understanding the book has been made easier because of the foundation laid by the class discussions and materials. The concepts that have been clarified in relation to culture, communities, and globalization has become an integral part of understanding how and why the Sebei communities had to adjust to the changing setting of the world and the communities which belong to it.
It is difficult for a reader to understand the complex parts of the monograph if one would not take into consideration the aspects which relate the community to the changes in its surroundings. If the reader would not have the respective concepts and ideas, he/she might be limited to understanding the community in isolation and forget to relate it to the world outside the said community.
There are factors which might be missed by the reader in understanding the community, in this case, and forget about the other forces that could change communities. Works Cited Goldschmidt, Walter. Culture and behavior of the Sebei: A study in Continuity and Adaptation. Berkeley, Los Angeles: University of California, 1976. MacGaffey, Wyatt. “Review. ” ASA Review of Books 4 (1978): 110-111. Mead, Margaret. “Review. ” American Anthropologists 79. 4 (1977): 938-939.
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