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Tea Virtanen

Abstract

In this essay I explore the meaning of cattle for the Mbororo pastoralists of the Adamaoua Region, Cameroon, in realising and conceptualising the pilgrimage to Mecca. As an analytic frame I employ the concept of moral economy and the related discussion of cycles of exchange by Jonathan Parry and Maurice Bloch (1989), which, I argue, open up new ways of understanding and theorising the pilgrimage process. For the Mbororo cattle form the material base for the pilgrimage, as it is only through cattle sales that they are able to carry out the journey. Furthermore, the possibility of going on a public pilgrimage through selling cattle has significance for local intraethnic relations because it has blurred the traditional power hierarchy by providing the relatively marginalised Mbororo a more visible Muslim status in the region. The cattle also shape the way in which the Mbororo conceptualise the pilgrimage experience by forming an elemental part of a set of symbolic transformations through which the blessing (barka) of Mecca reaches the Mbororo camps of Adamaoua, and the pilgrimage is absorbed into the sociocosmic order of the pastoral community. Finally, in the Mbororo moral discourse these ‘pastoral’ transformations, guided by sociospiritual reasons, are contrasted with other Adamaouan pilgrims’ purely economically motivated transactions during the journey.

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Framing African Development

Challenging Concepts

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Edited by Kjell Havnevik, Terje Oestigaard, Eva Tobisson and Tea Virtanen

This book discusses and challenges concepts that are widely used in research and policy related to development issues in Africa. The main rationale for such an undertaking is that the concepts that are used to understand and define the world in general and Africa in particular are not merely describing social, economic and political processes and events; they are also largely framing these very same processes. Thus, the concepts by which we structure the world will implicitly or explicitly give premises for policies and practices; limiting or favouring certain types of actions and frameworks of interpretation and understanding in various contexts. It is therefore important to challenge commonly held conceptions about framing African development.


Contributors include: Deborah Fahy Bryceson, Rosalind Eyben, Amanda Hammar, Kjell Havnevik, Mats Hårsmar, Terje Oestigaard and Rune Skarstein
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Kjell Havnevik, Terje Oestigaard, Eva Tobisson and Tea Virtanen

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Kjell Havnevik, Terje Oestigaard, Eva Tobisson and Tea Virtanen