Primo and his brothers: The nominal konzo system between two forms of individuation

Cristina Zavaroni, Stefania Consigliere


Among the Bakonzo of the Rwenzori, Uganda, each new-born is granted a name indicating his or her birth order, following the siblings previously born of the same mother. Such a name does not serve as a label attached to someone’s specificity and uniqueness, that is, to someone’s individuality. Rather, it is a description of the person’s relative position within the uterine descent group, a position which is – therefore – common to many persons. Other names are attached to each Mukonzo, either at birth or later in life, according to biographical circumstances, new relational positions, personal characteristics and religious affiliation. The konzo naming system contributes therefore to a «relational individuation» and nowadays reflects the new tensions that arise at the intersection between different anthropo-poietic systems.

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