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Political Leadership among Swat Pathans (London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology)

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0485196191
ISBN-10: 0485196190
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Product Details

  • Series: London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology (Book 19)
  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Berg Publishers (February 1, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0485196190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0485196191
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #741,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Fredrik Barth's Political Leadership Among Swat Pathans is one of the most beautiful ethnographies I have read. He presents us a unique and interesting case example about the ways in which 'khans' of the Pakhtoun lineage play(ed) their roles as the leaders in the Swat valley (now in Pakistan). Barth carefully shows how do the leaders and their subjects participate in the defence of their resources (the land). Unlike the prevalent anthropological tradition of the time, Barth has emphasized the consequences of individual decisions for the larger social structure of the Usufzai Pathans. He touches every aspect of the Pathan society -from family structure to the social history -while explaining the contexts in which power is excercised by some leaders through both coercion and consensus.
But it is important to note that Barth focuses more on description rather than art of writing. The description of so many interesting events and incidents are sometimes bogged down by too much 'facts' and details. On the whole, the book is a landmark in the history of social anthropology.
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Fredrik Barth's Political Leadership Among Swat Pathans is one of the most beautiful ethnographies I have ever read. He presents a unique and interesting case about the ways in which 'khans' of the Pakhtun lineage play(ed) their roles as the leaders in the Swat valley (now in Pakistan). Barth carefully examins the relationships between the leaders and their subjects who jointly participate in the defence of their resources (the land). The book also gives us a vivid picuture of the adaptive strategies followed by Pathans, which are embedded with their kinship stuructures and occupational divisions.
Unlike the prevalent anthropological tradition of the time, Barth has emphasized the consequences of individual decisions for the larger social structure of the Usufzai Pathans. He touches every aspect of the Pathan society -from family structure to the social history -while explaining the contexts in which power is excercised by the 'khans'through both coercion and consensus.
Barth has focused more on description which eliminates possible humor one would expect on such kind of writing. The description of so many interesting events and incidents are sometimes bogged down by too much 'information'. On the whole, the book is a landmark in the history of social anthropology, and deserves the minds and shelves of those who are interested in the discipline of anthropology and/or political science.
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Though written over 50 years ago, this short book repays reading. It shows us how ethnic hierarchy and descent group dominance can operate alongside values of independence and dominance. It also explains why the creation of stable state systems has proved so difficult in these Af-Pak border regions.
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