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Collecting Food, Cultivating PeopleSubsistence and Society in Central Africa$
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Kathryn M. de Luna

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300218534

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300218534.001.0001

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Life on the Central Frontier

Life on the Central Frontier

The Geographies of Technology, Trade, and Prestige, 750 to 1700

(p.172) 5. Life on the Central Frontier
Collecting Food, Cultivating People

Kathryn M. de Luna

Yale University Press

This chapter places the history of Botatwe communities’ changing subsistence practices in a broader, transregional context. Botatwe societies lived in a territory that constituted a frontier encircled by multiple and changing heartlands of political and technological innovation. Although the early histories of central and southern Africa have never been told from the perspective of the residents of the lands that bridged them,residents of this central frontier contributed to key changes in the trade, politics, and technologies of both central and southern Africa. As residents of the central frontier, Botatwe communities contributed—sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly—to well-known historical processes, from the extension of Indian Ocean trade networks to sites like Divuyu and Nqoma in the Tsodillo Hills in the late first millennium and sites like Ingombe Ilede some centuries later to the innovation of hereditary status among residents of the Upemba Depression, cultural forefathers to the famous Luba kingdom, and the politics of bushcraft that inspired the familiar hunter-founder figures of the foundation myths of central African savanna kingdoms. By engaging in these processes, Botatwe speakers crafted a durable, but ever-changing political culture valuing worldliness, fame, wealth, and skill as the foundation for an ephemeral politics of status.

Keywords:   Central Africa, Central Frontier, Indian Ocean Trade, Luba, Southern Africa, Tsodillo Hills, Upemba

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