Semiar: Tonga Timeline-Appraising 60 years of multidisciplinary research in Southern Province, Zambia

Grants and Contracts Details


I fl.'..JJL'.... I ,JUIVIIVIflI' I This proposal seeks funding for a two day seminar bringing together a collection of active scholars with a shared ethnographic focus on Tonga speaking people of Zambia's Southern Province, to take place in Lusaka (Zambia) during July 2008. Through presentations of field based research set within the context of 60 years of social research in the region. the seminar will facilitate a synthesis of understanding and knowledge of Tonga lives. With that comprehensive foundation, the final session of the seminar will focus on identifying key gaps in our knowledge and the most urgent issues to be addressed in future research. Outcomes from the seminar will include a cluster of papers, with a synthetic introduction, published in the Journal of Southern African Studies. From Iron Age sites dating back at least 700 years, to cutting edge research on HIV medical interventions, Zambia's Southern Province, and the adjacent Zimbabwean Zambezi Rift, have played a central role in social science research for more than half a century. Our understanding of life in Southern Province, specifically of all things "Tonga," rises from this body of knowledge, rich and diverse in approach. Some of the most recognized scholars include early founders of anthropological, sociological, political, economic and ecological disciplines. Luminaries such as Elizabeth Colson (in particular, and a central participant in this seminar), Thayer Scudder, J. Desmond Clark, Ladislav Holy and Philip Tobias stand out for establishing a profoundly rich baseline of knowledge on which so many equally impressive scholars, including John Milimo, Bonnie Keller, Pamela Reynolds, Chet Lancaster and so many others, have since added. From these studies emerges detailed understanding of social, aesthetic, cosmological, political, nutritional and ecological factors in life among Tonga populations, but also valuable theoretical frameworks for examining these aspects of hfe. The seminar will be organized around a selection of major themes that come out of all this research, including: the impact of disease (from the 1918 flu, to HIV/AIDS and cattle corridor disease); flexibility and resilience of social forms; longitudinal population dynamics; adaptation to ecological stress; social diversification; agricultural trends; political integration; meaning and symbolism; linguistics and communication methods; and material culture. The organizers ft. Cliggett, V. Bond and B. Siamwiza) intend the seminar to attract not only established and emerging scholars but also the authors and researchers of the unrecognized and largely unpublished grey material on the Tonga, generated by Zambian nationals within African academic settings who are not as closely tied to the international scholarly community, NGO5 officers, missionaries and donors, who contribute not only to our understanding but also to interventions in the region. By bringing together scholars who have worked, or continue to conduct research in the Tonga region, we will revisit the knowledge base that has been created on Tonga life in the Zambia/Zimbabwe region. Reflecting on this rich body of knowledge and on where we currently stand, the seminar will promote discussion about the most urgent issues needing attention now, and where future research activity should be directed.
Effective start/end date7/1/086/30/10


  • National Science Foundation: $40,012.00


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