chapter
Studies of Bantu-speaking peoples
Pages 5

Studies concerned with Bantu and San-speaking peoples represent quite different anthropological traditions; the former being central in the development of the British school of *functionalism and †structural functionalism, the latter significantly connected to the materialist-evolutionary tradition in *American anthropology. This difference in theoretical orientation may, at least in part, answer for the fact that there are virtually no studies which systematically address the relationship between them, nor any systematic comparison of them, though one exception is †Schapera’s Government and Politics in Tribal Societies (1956). The importance of this work is also due to the fact that it went beyond the approach to *‘political anthropology’, once canonized in African Political Systems (Fortes and Evans-Pritchard 1940). Drawing upon a considerable number of solid ethnographic works, especially from the 1930s and 1940s (e.g. Wilson [Hunter 1936;] Krige and Krige 1943; H.Kuper 1947), Schapera gave much more importance to the exercise of leadership. He emphasized the significance of ‘the sources and sanctions of political authority’ (1956:1), and he broadened the scope of ‘politics’ by taking into account all aspects of leadership. This reduced the †ethnocentrism of the concept of political leadership and facilitated his efforts to bring the whole range of Southern African peoples, including hunting-and-gathering bands, into a unified comparative analysis of political organization.