An Historical and Ethnographic Study of Cultural Change and Continuity in the Construction and Use of Vernacular Watercraft in the Tanga Region , Tanzania

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ryan D. Marr (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:

Abstract: "As global technology and corresponding security risks ever expand , traditional lifeways and archaic maritime landscapes are placed in ever greater danger of extinction. Within the Tanga region of Tanzania , numerous maritime populations face both social and cultural pressures that threaten their means of survival and the foundations of their collective identity. Ocean and riverine communities like Pangani , a nineteenth-century slave trade seaport and terminus for inland caravan routes , as well as rural villages such as Tongoni , Mwarongo , and Saadani still utilize indigenous watercraft like dhows and outriggers. These boats are integral to contemporary trade , tourism , and consumerism , as well as smuggling. This thesis investigates the boat design history , current building practices , and the broader socio-economic influences and context of these iconic Tanzanian watercraft. The theoretical basis for the research of craft design evolution centers around the concepts of the ""independent peasantry"" , World Systems Theory , and the Annales School of historical thought. Ethnographic data sets include interviews with boat builders and village elders. This is supplemented with archaeological documentation techniques of boat design features and local maritime material culture. Primary historical sources include colonial European narratives , anthropological studies of locations of trade , boat building and repair activities , and modern socio-economic analyses. The thesis integrates these interdisciplinary data sets with a view to understanding historical trends in cultural change and continuity in traditional boat design to decipher whether any evidence exists of German or British colonial influence. The ethnographic , historic , and archaeological data collected during the research expedition suggest that no significant European colonial design influence is evident in modern Tanzanian vernacular watercraft within the Tanga Region. The major factors influencing the dismissal of any European design inclusion reflect the horrific treatment experienced by the indigenous peoples under colonial rule , the continuance of the independent peasantry as a socioeconomic entity , the use of what resources are available to ensure survival , the dismissal of expensive and unnecessary modern construction technologies , and the communal protection of traditional lifeways as a cultural schema."

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Tanga, Dhow, Outrigger, Nungwe, Zanzibar, Lamu

Email this document to

This item references:

TitleLocation & LinkType of Relationship
An Historical and Ethnographic Study of Cultural Change and Continuity in the Construction and Use of Vernacular Watercraft in the Tanga Region , Tanzania described resource references, cites, or otherwise points to the related resource.