Islam and Social Change in French West Africa: History of an by Sean Hanretta

By Sean Hanretta

Exploring the background and spiritual neighborhood of a bunch of Muslim Sufi mystics who got here principally from socially marginal backgrounds in colonial French West Africa, this learn exhibits the connection among spiritual, social, and financial switch within the quarter. It highlights the position that intellectuals - together with not just elite males, but in addition ladies, slaves, and the negative - performed in shaping social and cultural swap and illuminates the explicit non secular rules on which Muslims drew and the political contexts that gave their efforts that means. not like depictions that emphasize the significance of foreign networks and anti-modern response in twentieth-century Islamic reform, this publication claims that, in West Africa, such activities have been pushed via neighborhood forces and constituted basically the latest around in a collection of centuries-old debates in regards to the top means for pious humans to confront social injustice. It argues that conventional historic tools hinder an appreciation of Muslim highbrow background in Africa by way of false impression the character of data amassing in the course of colonial rule and misconstruing the connection among records and oral historical past.

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2. 36 William H. , ‘‘The Concept(s) of Culture,’’ in Beyond the Cultural Turn, p. C. Smith’s The Meaning and End of Religion,’’ History of Religions 40 (2001), 205–222. Sewell’s ‘‘weak structure,’’ with its echoes of Walter Benjamin’s ‘‘weak messianic power’’ is preferable to Tilly’s Burkian ‘‘loosely scripted acts of contention’’ with its sense of an invisible author. David W. Cohen rescued the concept of ‘‘oral tradition’’ from reification and obsession with origin, but his image of traditions as basically moments in the ongoing process whereby people ‘‘produce and maintain histories’’ though deep engagement with social change, subject to the efforts of experts to ‘‘continuously assemble’’ useful knowledge, applies just as well to other kinds of sources.

29 Paul Lovejoy and Jan S. Hogendorn, Slow Death for Slavery: The Course of Abolition in Northern Nigeria, 1897–1936 (Cambridge, UK, 1993). , The End of Slavery in Africa (Madison, 1988); Lovejoy and Hogendorn, Slow Death for Slavery; Frederick Cooper, Decolonization and African Society; James F. Searing, ‘‘God Alone Is King’’: Islam and Emancipation in Senegal, the Wolof Kingdoms of Kajoor and Bawol, 1859–1914 (Portsmouth, NH, 2002); Trevor Getz, Slavery and Reform in West Africa: Toward Emancipation in Nineteenth-Century Senegal and the Gold Coast (Athens, OH, 2004); Benjamin N.

After a point, I realized this was not really so different from how I myself viewed my interactions with the community. Friendly conversations, shared experiences, lengthy formal interviews, and (occasionally) proffered texts were all grist for my interpretive mill as I sifted and scrutinized everything for underlying patterns. If my own theoretical and historiographic matrices had led me to anticipate what I found in my investigations, was it not fair that members of the community performed the same intellectual operation on me?

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