Peripatetics of Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey - Sociopolitical Organization

Sociopolitical organization varied greatly among communities. Thus, for example, among the Ghorbat of Afghanistan, there was no superordinate political structure, nor were there any permanent positions of leadership; the community was, in principle, egalitarian. Among the Baluch, on the other hand, each of the eight segmentary lineages had a chief ( arbab ), whose power was absolute. Each lineage had a strict hierarchical structure and the organization of economic resources was entirely in the hands of the lineage chief. The Vangawala were split into five descent groups, which considered one another equal. Within each descent group, there was an institutionalized form of chiefship, which was hereditary in the fraternal and filial line. The Pikraj, however, were divided into three regional subdivisions, each of which had a fluid structure, and a person or family could change his subdivisional affiliation. The Luti of Iran were also divided into lineages, the structure of which appears fairly fluid. Among the Kowli of Iran, authority was in the hands of men with a fairly large clientele; these men directed migration and settled disputes. Given the marginal political and social position of each of these communities within their respective greater societies, continuous attempts had to be made to avoid conflicts with nongroup members. This was achieved by most communities in Afghanistan and Iran by acquiring locally influential sedentary or nomadic pastoral patrons; on the economic level, these patrons were, in fact, their clients.

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