The Making and Unmaking of the Haya Lived World

Consumption, Commoditization, and Everyday Practice

The Making and Unmaking of the Haya Lived World

Body, Commodity, Text

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Book Pages: 264 Illustrations: 9 b&w photographs Published: January 1996

Author: Brad Weiss

African Studies, Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Cultural Studies

At the center of this subtle ethnographic account of the Haya communities of Northwest Tanzania is the idea of a lived world as both the product and the producer of everyday practices. Drawing on his experience living with the Haya, Brad Weiss explores Haya ways of constructing and inhabiting their community, and examines the forces that shape and transform these practices over time. In particular, he shows how the Haya, a group at the fringe of the global economy, have responded to the processes and material aspects of money, markets, and commodities as they make and remake their place in a changing world.
Grounded in a richly detailed ethnography of Haya practice, Weiss’s analysis considers the symbolic qualities and values embedded in goods and transactions across a wide range of cultural activity: agricultural practice and food preparation, the body’s experience of epidemic disease from AIDS to the infant affliction of “plastic teeth,” and long-standing forms of social movement and migration. Weiss emphasizes how Haya images of consumption describe the relationship between their local community and the global economy. Throughout, he demonstrates that particular commodities and more general market processes are always material and meaningful forces with the potential for creativity as well as disruption in Haya social life. By calling attention to the productive dimensions of this spatial and temporal world, his work highlights the importance of human agency in not only the Haya but any sociocultural order.
Offering a significant contribution to the anthropological theories of practice, embodiment, and agency, and enriching our understanding of the lives of a rural African people, The Making and Unmaking of the Haya Lived World will interest historians, anthropologists, ethnographers, and scholars of cultural studies.


“[T]his work stands out as an excellent example of how ethnographic data can be used to contest the primacy of Western philosophical models and as an important tool for examining the ways in which people in this rural African context construct their worldview to understand cultural changes.” — Christian T. de Francisco , Religious Studies Review

“A richly interpretive and theoretically sophisticated account [that] adds a great deal to an anthropology of cultural processes of embodiment and commodification in East Africa.” — Philip Setel, American Anthropologist

“The strength of this book lies in its brilliant demonstration that local contexts of practical life and quotidian experience—understood in terms of embodiment, agency, and non–discursive form—may constitute grounds for understanding such global issues as epidemic disease, commoditization, symbolic capital, and the discourse of nationalism.” — Michael Jackson, Indiana University

“This is an important ethnography, beautifully written and tightly conceived. It offers stunning ethnographic material and important theoretic reframings of exchange practices. Weiss establishes, the value of a person-centered, historically situated African ethnography and sets a new standard for clarity of exposition of complex contemporary issues in these terms.” — Debbora Battaglia, Mount Holyoke College


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Brad Weiss is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the College of William and Mary.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

1. An Orientation to the Study 1

I. Making the World 27

2. "Evil Flee, Goodness Come In": Creating and Securing Domesticity 29

3. Heartplaces and Households: Haya Culinary Practices 51

4. Mealtime: Providing and Presenting a Meal 80

5. A Moral Gastronomy: Value and Action in the Experience of Food 127

II. The World Unmade 151

6. Plastic Teeth Extraction: An Iconography of Gastrosexual Affliction 155

7. "Buying Her Grave": Money, Movement, and AIDS 179

8. Electric Vampires: From Embodied Commodities to Commoditized Bodies 202

9. Conclusions: The Enchantment of the Disenchanted World 220

Notes 227

References 239

Index 247
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1722-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1725-8
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