Placing Politics
Marc Abélès
Translated by Dominique Lussier

December 2012, paperback, 270 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-905622-45-0
Studies in the African Rift Valley

Publication of this title was supported by THE CHRISTENSEN FUND


In Placing Politics (published originally as Le lieu du politique in 1983), Marc Ab�l�s sets out to study the political practices of the Ochollo from the Gamo highlands of south-west Ethiopia. In doing so he demonstrates that the Ochollo constitute a �democratic� model of organisation where the population is self-administrered by means of frequent assemblies. Within this model there is a strong hierarchical order of sacrificers and dignitaries where complex, sometimes strained, relations unify the different institutional actors and rituals of this system. For the Ochollo, as for many other stateless societies, the powers are omnipresent and politics always diffuse.

In analysing the concrete situation of a contemporary Ethiopian society, this book gives rise to a reflection on a more general problem: that of the nature and conditions of the exercise of politics in acephalous societies..



Chapter One:The Social Organization of Space
Chapter Two: A Democracy and Its Actors
Chapter Three: Expense and Ostentation: The Inauguration of the Dignitaries
Chapter Four: Exchanges and Redistribution: The Stakes of the Feasts
Chapter Five: Beliefs and Immolation Rites
Chapter Six: The Sacrificers: Lands and Powers


About the Author

Marc Abélès first worked on this study under the supervision of Claude Lévi-Strauss. Based on his work among the Ochollo, his subsequent research has been devoted to political life and institutions in France and Europe. He ran the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Institutions et des Organisations Sociales (LAIOS) since its creation with other colleagues in 1995 and was elected Directeur d’Etudes at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in 2005. He is currently a director of the
Centro Franco-Argentino de Altos Estudios, Universidad de Buenos Aires.

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