From Beer to Money: Labor Exchange and Commercialization in Eastern Uganda

by Soichiro Shiraishi

Abstract

This¬†paper discusses how labor exchange and social ties among the Sabiny in eastern Uganda have changed with increased commercialization in the area. It explains the rationale for the original “beer party system” and how labor exchanges associated with this system have been transformed in the light of social change affecting the area. It also examines the new forms of social interaction and how they compare with the original beer party arrangements. It concludes by arguing that although the market economy has penetrated the area and the life of the Sabiny has changed in many important respects, the short-term interactions in the market have not obliterated the longer-term commitments to indigenous cultural values and vice versa. This continues to be important for the rural inhabitants of this part of Uganda.

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Soichiro Shiraishi is a Ph.D. student at the Center for Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University.