n Journal for Islamic Studies - Sit local, think global : the baraza in Zanzibar

Volume 27, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0257-7062



Although being a major feature of Zanzibar's everyday life, the baraza has so far largely escaped attention of academic discussion. Public or semi-public places where people of a house, of a neighbourhood or even a larger social configuration meet to sit and chat, to spend time, drink coffee and discuss politics, religion, football or other quotidian issues are certainly found in many societies. Yet, Zanzibar's baraza are so omnipresent that it is hard to imagine the island without them. At the same time, baraza life is not easy to grasp. Although there are set rules of baraza etiquette, they are not a permanent "institution" but may disappear as quickly as they have come into existence. This contribution discusses some of the major features of baraza life and the spatial organization of the baraza, in particular, and to establish thereby something like a baraza "sociology".

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