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Lake Tanganyika : commercial frontier in the era of long-distance commerce, East and Central Africa, c.1830-1890

This thesis uses Lake Tanganyika as a case study to analyse long-distance commerce in East and Central Africa during the period c.1830-1890. This era is loosely demarcated by the arrival of traders from the Indian Ocean Coast to the lakeshore at its beginning, and the imposition of European colonial rule at its end. Its central argument is that the shores of Lake Tanganyika represented a frontier region in this spatial and temporal context. The nature of this frontier was intimately tied to Lake Tanganyika's specific environmental characteristics. People migrated to and across the lake for protection and because of the commercial opportunities that were available to those who did so. This promoted cultural exchange, political instability, and commercial opportunity - themes that are common in other analyses of frontiers, borderlands, and other large bodies of water. The development of the frontier was tied to the ways in which lakeshore populations and long-distance traders encountered each other within the context of the lakeshore environment. The results of these encounters led to the emergence of distinct cultural forms. These were expressed via a collective demand for certain commercial goods in an integrated lakeshore market, pervasive religious beliefs and rituals, and types of settlement that re-shaped the lakeshore's position in relation to elsewhere in East and Central Africa. The coalescence of these cultural forms may be regarded as the development of a 'frontier culture' that set the lacustrine region apart from nearby landward regions. Such a focus on cultural exchange sheds new light on the encounter between longdistance traders and other interior populations, which is often understood in terms of economic transactions and political upheaval. The Lake Tanganyika case study, therefore, allows for the addition of a cultural layer to some of the prevailing perspectives regarding long-distance commerce in East and Central Africa.
Date January 2017
CreatorsGooding, Philip
PublisherSOAS, University of London
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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