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By Bernardo Bernardi

All societies are differentiated by means of age. yet in a few, this differentiation takes the shape of institutionalized, officially graded age periods, the individuals of which proportion an assigned 'structural' age, if now not inevitably an identical physiological age. the character of formal age staff structures has develop into one of many vintage matters in glossy social anthropology, even supposing previously there was no finished explication of those complicated sorts of social association. during this ebook, Bernardo Bernardi, one of many pioneers of the anthropological learn of age classification structures, presents a manner of creating experience of the range of such platforms via analysing cross-culturally their universal beneficial properties and the development in their transformations, and displaying that they serve a common goal for the association of society and for the distribution and rotation of energy.

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Evans-Pritchard 1939: xxxi) In 1951, Peristiany published an analysis of the class system of the Pokot (Suk), based on detailed material he had gathered on the rites of passage and on the functions of the system, leading to the following synthesis: "Pastoral society, without a territorial or lineage structure, is thus divided into an age class hierarchy, which serves as a political platform" (Peristiany 1951: 301). In Kenya, the situation of the Kikuyu may be taken as typical of the BantuHamites.

A similar problem may be raised by certain figures who seem to take unto themselves the power of their class while they emerge as leaders with special functions. This is particularly true of those who are invested with a ritual office that is a component part of the age class system and of those dignitaries whose function of pronouncing blessing is marginal to the system. A typical example of the first is the Abba Gada of the Boran, while an example of the second is provided by laibon of the Masai.

Dundas 1915: 238-9) The history of the naming of paramount chiefs, chiefs, and headmen offers a significant chapter in colonial history, the study of which is far from being completed. 24 Legitimation and power Slowly, with the development of a less biased and more intimate view of the local institutions, the colonial governments realized that, even where authority was not centralized and there were no chiefs, there existed structures that underlay an efficient social order. It was through a series of comparative studies that stateless societies were placed in a rigorous anthropological and political perspective, and it was only in the later stages of this process that the age class systems were included in the same perspective.

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