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Complexity flourished in several regions north and south of the Zambezi during the second millennium ce. Four of these localities are explored here: the Greater Shashe-Limpopo region, the Zimbabwean plateau, the Upemba depression–Katanga area, and the Maravi state. Politics in all four regions were fluid, and processes of fusion and fission sporadically reconfigured these socio-political landscapes. Fluidity also manifested in the relocation of political centers as political loyalties were realigned, economic networks shifted, and, in the more recent period, colonial expansion affected southern Africa. Political fluidity, however, does not mean population discontinuities. Settlement and material culture distribution patterns in the Greater Shashe-Limpopo region suggest that networking between communities was vital to the development of complexity in the region. This included interaction between first peoples and newcomers, which has also been noted in the Mutapa, Khami, and Venda polities. There also was substantial continuity in local Upemba populations throughout the occupation sequence, irrespective of the configuration of political control. Political power was closely entwined with economic wealth in these regions. Economic commodities, however, varied. In the Greater Shashe-Limpopo region and on the Zimbabwean plateau, cattle were important objects in the accumulation of wealth. In these economies cattle had intrinsic value but were also used to facilitate other forms of wealth generation, such as trade and mining. Cattle keeping played a less significant role north of the Zambezi. In the Upemba basin, salt and metal production furnished important trade goods, but trade in these products did not drive the development of complexity. In contrast, the expansion of Maravi political power was entangled with Indian Ocean trade networks.

Article

John G. Turner

The Mormon exodus marked a new phase for a religious movement that from its inception had always set peoples in motion. The political creation of Deseret and the settlement of the Great Basin were acts of political and religious territoriality, claiming a vast swath of land for the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In turn, the process of settling and defending that territory transformed the spatial dimensions of Mormonism. As the Latter-day Saints gathered to a Rocky Mountain Zion, they reshaped the environment of the Great Basin, clashed with non-Mormon Americans over matters of theocracy and polygamy, and conquered native peoples. Rather than gathering to a particular city as Mormons in the eastern United States had done, the Saints now built up what they understood to be the Kingdom of God on earth. Between 1847 and the 1869 completion of the Transcontinental Railroad, thousands of Mormon emigrants crossed the plains and mountains and settled in colonies that stretched from present-day Idaho to San Bernardino. After losing a series of struggles for political and judicial control of the Utah Territory, and after publicly abandoning the principal of plural marriage, the church stopped encouraging its members to emigrate. The Mormons came to think of Zion in figurative, non-geographic terms. By abandoning the principal of gathering, moreover, the Church of Jesus Christ—especially outside of its Great Basin heartland—functioned more like the Protestant denominations against which it had long defined itself.