The island of Ngazidja lies at the southern end of the monsoon wind system and its inhabitants, the Wangazidja, have participated in the trading networks of the Indian Ocean for two millennia. The enduring contacts between the Wangazidja and their trading partners have subjected them to a variety of social and cultural influences – from the Swahili coast, from the African hinterland, from the Arabian peninsula, from Indonesia and, more recently, from Europe. This book looks at the strategies called into play by Wangazidja in negotiating this encounter with the outside world; it discusses how they incorporate this variety of influences into their own social and cultural modes of practice while all the time remaining (in the words of one observer) ‘authentic’. Drawing on the work of thinkers such as Theodor Adorno, Rene Girard and Michael Taussig, the author develops the theoretical concept of mimesis in an analysis of these transformations, increasingly relevant in the contemporary context of globalization, showing how firmly anchored social structures are able to incorporate what seem to be practices imitative of the Other.
Walker, I. (2010) Becoming the Other, Being Oneself: Constructing Identities in a Connected World, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing