James de Vere Allen was Curator of the Lamu Museum.

Swahili Origins

Swahili Culture and The Shungwaya Phenomenon

By James de Vere Allen

Kiswahili has become the lingua franca of eastern Africa. Yet there can be few historic peoples whose identity is as elusive as that of the Swahili. Some have described themselves as Arabs, as Persians or even, in one place, as Portuguese. It is doubtful whether, even today, most of the people about whom this book is written would unhesitatingly and in all contexts accept the name Swahili. This book was central to the thought and lifework of the late James de Vere Allen.


Women in the Shadows
Gender, Puppets, and the Power of Tradition in Bali
Wayang kulit, or shadow puppetry, connects a mythic past to the present through public ritual performance and is one of most important performance traditions in Bali. The dalang, or puppeteer, is revered in Balinese society as a teacher and spiritual leader.


The Public and Its Problems
An Essay in Political Inquiry
More than six decades after John Dewey’s death, his political philosophy is undergoing a revival.


Modern Muslims
A Sudan Memoir
Steve Howard departed for the Sudan in the early 1980s as an American graduate student beginning a three-year journey in which he would join and live with the Republican Brotherhood, the Sufi Muslim group led by the visionary Mahmoud Mohamed Taha.


Alexander Robey Shepherd
The Man Who Built the Nation’s Capital
With Alexander Robey Shepherd, John P. Richardson gives us the first full-length biography of his subject, who as Washington, D.C.’s, public works czar (1871–74) built the infrastructure of the nation’s capital in a few frenetic years after the Civil War.


Paying Calls in Shangri-La
Scenes from a Woman’s Life in American Diplomacy
Judith M. Heimann entered the diplomatic life in 1958 to join her husband, John, in Jakarta, Indonesia, at his American Embassy post. This, her first time out of the United States, would set her on a path across the continents as she mastered the fine points of diplomatic culture.