Predatory Commerce, Elite Competition: Economic Conflict and the Downfall of Elite Communitas in the port of Mtwapa, Kenya, 1600-1750 CE.
Author(s): Rahul Oka
The premise of this session is that "communities are not merely the byproducts of individual households pursuing their own productive strategies nor are households passive reflections of the larger communities of which they are a part." This paper focuses on Waungwana (elite) communitas at the Swahili port of Mtwapa, Kenya between 1600-1750 CE. Data from 10 elite wards is used to examine the effects of competition on both household and community. Analysis shows that the external predatory commerce in the Indian Ocean trading world of 17th and 18th centuries is linked to the emergence of new competitive elite households within the waungwana at Mtwapa who: a) invested more in ‘foreign’ merchant networks rather than local and regional alliance networks, and b) shifted from a local-regional value-added manufacturing economy to a regional-global raw material-based extractive economy. While this enabled greater profit for the emergent elite households, it also led to a breakdown in the Waungwana communitas and ultimately, to capital flight, elite out-migration, and abandonment of Mtwapa between 1750-1800 CE. It is argued that household engagement in competitive pursuit of their own productive strategies in response to predatory commerce may be a fundamental factor in the breakdown of communitas and communities.
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This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
- Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015) •
- From Households to Communities: Bridging Scales in Search of Conflict, Coalescence, and Communitas
Cite this Record
Predatory Commerce, Elite Competition: Economic Conflict and the Downfall of Elite Communitas in the port of Mtwapa, Kenya, 1600-1750 CE.. Rahul Oka. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395362)
min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;