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War in the Tribal Zone

Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare

Edited by R. Brian Ferguson and Neil L.Whitehead; With a New Preface by the Editors

War in the Tribal Zone, the 1991 anthropology of war classic, is back in print with a new Preface by the editors. Their timely and insightful essay examines the occurrence of ethnic conflict and violence in the decade since the idea of the ‘tribal zone’ originally was formulated. Finding the book’s analysis tragically prophetic in identifying the key dynamics that have produced the kinds of conflicts recently witnessed globally-as in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda, and Somalia-the editors consider the political origins and cultural meanings of ‘ethnic’ violence in our postcolonial world.

1992. 352 pp., 10 black-and-white illustrations, appendix, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Thomas S. Abler, Michael F. Brown, R. Brian Ferguson, Eduardo Fernandez, R. A. L. H. Gunawardana, Ross Hassig, Robin Law, D. J. Mattingly, Andrew Strathern, Neil L. Whitehead

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“The papers in this volume are of uniformly high quality … Collectively, they make an important point, contribute to the merging of anthropological and historic modes of inquiry, and open up novel perspectives on a classic topic.”
—Bruce Lincoln, American Anthropologist Vol. 95, no. 2

War in the Tribal Zone is an important contribution and an invaluable asset to interchange among scholars interested in the patterns of interaction between states and tribes.”
—Thomas D. Hall, American Indian Culture and Research Journal

“This volume is an example of multiculturism at its best. The ten essays are characterized by thorough research, compelling lines of argument, and clear writing styles. Historians as well as anthropologists will find the work a desirable addition to their private libraries, and it merits a place in all public collections on the subject of war and society.”
—Dennis E. Showalter, MultiCultural Review Vol. 2, no. 1

“A highly readable and stimulating volume that will undoubtedly be prescribed in anthropology-of-war courses for years to come.”
—American Ethnologist, 1990

“The volume has wide intellectual implications. It is a…demonstration of what a comparative anthropology can do for an enhanced understanding of the serious problems that beset the world. The outcome is a quite remarkable presentation.”
—Eric R. Wolf

“Challenging, scholarly, and perceptive…an apt demonstration of the best in comparative anthropology.”
—Science Books and Films

“This is a valuable work and essential for anyone seeking to study or better understand the encounter between two cultures and societies where conflict is possible.”
—Russel M. Magnaghi, Terrae Incognitae 26 (1994)

“This is a very useful and scholarly collection of papers that will be of particular interest to students of warfare, comparative political organizations, and social evolution.”
—C. R. Hallpike, Man Vol. 29, no. 1 (March 1994)


  1. The Violent Edge of Empire
    R. Brian Ferguson and Neil L. Whitehead
  2. War and Peace in Roman North Africa: Observations and Models of State-Tribe Interaction
    D. J. Mattingly
  3. Conquest and Resistance: Pre-State and State Expansionism in Early Sri Lankan History
    R. A. L. H. Gundawardana
  4. Aztec and Spanish Conquest in Mesoamerica
    Ross Hassig
  5. Warfare on the West African Slave Coast, 1650-1850
    Robin Law
  6. Tribes Make States and States Make Tribes: Warfare and the Creation of Colonial Tribes and States in Northeastern South America
    Neil L. Whitehead
  7. Beavers and Muskets: Iroquois Military Fortunes in the Face of European Colonization
    Thomas S. Abler
  8. Tribe and State in a Frontier Mosaic: The Ashaninka of Eastern Peru
    Michael F. Brown and Eduardo Fernandez
  9. A Savage Encounter: Western Contact and the Yanomami War Complex
    R. Brian Ferguson
  10. Let the Bow Go Down
    Andrew Strathern

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.