Many studies of ethnic formation find metaphors of descent at the core of largely masculinist discourse about belonging and difference. This study integrates the meaning, affect, and information-sharing prompted with the other-than-human beings - in particular, trees - enlisted during rhythmic assembly at an Island shrine in east Africa's Inland Sea (Lake Victoria), in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Fostering ethnic identification there drew on lateral connections that crossed language, region, and standing without creating boundaries. A gendered discourse exceeding the masculine was likely indispensable to this sort of belonging. The beginning of a long period of bellicose state expansionism and the deep history of public healing in the region framed these developments.
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