New Perspectives on the Political Economy of Great Zimbabwe
Journal of Archaeological Research
© 2019, The Author(s). This review draws from old and new archaeological data and takes interpretive flavor from indigenous African concepts to demonstrate that, within a context of local and external interfaces, Great Zimbabwe’s political economy was a mosaic rooted more in a mix of seasonally specific, household-based, compositional strategies of production and circulation and less in the redistribution of archaeologically low-frequency exotics from the Indian Ocean. An ideology based on the hierarchical triad of land, ancestors, and belief in God underwrote custodial rights and extractive powers that at times enabled rulers to access a share of productive, allocative, and circulative activities in their territories. Simultaneously, households and communities freely participated in the economy, often inside and outside state control and influence, demonstrating the individual, collective, mixed, embedded, and capillary nature of the political economy.