chapter
6 Pages

Introduction

I should also add that the great majority of the articles in this volume were written after my disillusionment over the value, for Muslim societies in North Africa and the Middle East generally, of segmentary lineage theory as originally expounded by Evans-Pritchard for the Nuer of the southern Sudan and the Bedouins of Cyrenaica (Evans-Pritchard 1940, 1949). My estrangement stemmed largely but by no means entirely from my debate on this subject with Henry Munson, Jr. , with respect to my work on the Rif, in the pages of the American Anthropologist for 1989 (Munson 1989; Hart 1989). It will probably be noticed that I make few if any references to it in these articles. I have not abandoned it completely, but I no longer give it the primacy that I did in my earlier work, which was also influenced by that of the late Ernest Gellner (1969), with whom Munson also had a subsequent debate, with respect to his own work, as well as, to a lesser extent, my own, on the Ait 'Atta (cf. Munson 1993, 1995; Gellner 1996; Hart 1996). For the value of segmentary lineage theory in terms of what it actually explains now seems to me to be slight at best, especially as it is far more restrictive than it is inclusive. I should also add that, in more general terms, I have now come to turn more frequently to social history than to social anthropology as a disciplinary medium of expression.