Abstract in English


The ritual grammar of hierarchies. Migrations and land chiefs in a sementary society (Burkina Faso)

Richard Kuba

Anthropologue, Institut d'Anthropologie et d'Études Africaines, Université Gutenberg de Mayence

The article explores the relation between ritual hierarchy and land right in a regional situation which was little influenced by the political changes brought on in the colonial era and to which neither the State nor agents involved in development have paid much attention. Phuo society was faced with a historical situation marked by considerable mobility and fluidity, and by an ethos of inclusion. It used, as it still does, a wide stock of argumentative resources regarding jurisdiction over land. The principle of 'first comer' at a given place plays a role, as do hierarchical relationships between lineages, who are characteristically highly specialised in their rituals. These specialisations are handed down the generations through the paternal line. However, certain competences can be transferred or even put up as pledges to other lineages who can gain access in this way to the cult governing land rights. The various modalities of transferring the cult of the land give some land chiefs a legitimacy that is unstable and contested, as in the case study described in this article.

Key-words : segmentary society - hierarchy - legitimisation - land rights - land chief - land cult - settlement history - Phuo - Burkina Faso.