Scholars who study early farming communities focus too rarely on social dimensions of agricultural history. Following some recent breakthroughs in this respect, especially Vansina (1990) and McIntosh (1993), this essay will offer some thoughts on the relations between food systems and socio-political institutions between the Great Lakes. A survey of the agricultural history of the region between Lake Victoria Nyanza and the Kivu Rift, 1 from about 500 BC to about AD 1000, forms the background for a presentation of the comparative linguistic and ethnographic evidence for the development of political and healing complexes within that agricultural context. The last two sections carry out these tasks.
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