Creating the ‘Imagined Community’ of Mapungubwe

Author(s): Ceri Ashley

Year: 2017


Mapungubwe’s influence spread deep into the regional hinterland, drawing in far-flung communities, trade networks and people. The traditional picture of a centripetal economy however has been challenged recently by work at these so called peripheries, indicating unexpected levels of autonomy and material wealth. While the place of these newly explored hinterlands need to be re-theorised and their agency acknowledged, there is danger in swinging the interpretive pendulum too far towards a centrifugal social structure of loosely linked political groupings. In this paper, as a complement to the idea of deterritorialisation, I will argue that alongside the uncoupling of hinterland economies from the putative core, there were nevertheless, continued iterations of belonging and community that bound the disparate entities. Drawing on the concept of the ‘imagined community’ that acts and articulates beyond the proximate, face-to-face contacts of the ‘natural’ community, I will explore how material culture consumption helped reinforce and maintain this network of ties and belonging.

Cite this Record

Creating the ‘Imagined Community’ of Mapungubwe. Ceri Ashley. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431933)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -18.809; min lat: -38.823 ; max long: 53.262; max lat: 38.823 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15269