Symbolic Mediation and Commoditization: A Critical Examination of Alcohol use Among the Haya of Bukoba, Tanzania

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Low‐alcohol‐content fermented beverages are thoroughly enmeshed in the social, economic, commensal, and cosmological spheres of life among most peoples of sub‐Saharan Africa. This paper describes and analyzes the role of alcoholic beverages as symbolic mediators and commodities among the Haya of northwest Tanzania. Data gathered during field research in 1985–86 are employed to describe the ways in which the Haya portray excessive drinking and the indigenous strategies they use to address frequent drunkenness when it is perceived as a health problem. A central feature of the paper contrasts the role of a cultural schema of four levels of intoxication in processes of symbolic mediation and commoditization, thereby contributing to critical medical anthropological analysis.



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