Status and Identity in West Africa

Status and Identity in West Africa : Nyamakalaw of Mande

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The nyamakalaw, a major professional class of artists and other occupationally defined specialists among the Mande-speaking peoples of West Africa, play powerful roles in Mande society. Yet they remain its most misunderstood social group. Constituting endogamous lineages, blacksmiths, potters, leatherworkers, and bards are accorded a special but ambiguous status apart from the rest of Mande society. In an effort to distinguish the misconceptions of outsiders from the ambiguity of the social reality, this book critiques Western perceptions of nyamakalaw that led to the colonial construction of the Mande "caste" system. Going beyond the colonial model, the contributors explore the dynamic status and identity of the nyamakalaw, the history of this phenomenon in various Mande contexts, and the role of individuals in its development in time and space. From a wide variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, the authors begin to reconstruct the social and cultural history of nyamakalaw. Contributors are Charles S. Bird, David C. Conrad, Barbara E. Frank, Barbara G. Hoffman, Cheick Mahamadou Cherif Keita, Martha B. Kendall, Robert Launay, Adria LaViolette, Patrick R.
McNaughton, Tal Tamari, and Kalilou Tera.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 224 pages
  • 154.9 x 236.2 x 20.3mm | 498.96g
  • Bloomington, IN, United States
  • English
  • 2M.
  • 0253314097
  • 9780253314093

Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS A NOTE ON ORTHOGRAPHY AND TERMINOLOGY Introduction Nyamakalaya Contradiction and Ambifuity in Mande Society David C. Conrad and Barbara E. Frank Part One: The Paradox of Word and Meaning I. Etymologies of nyamakala Charles S. Bird, Martha B. Kendall, and Kalilou Tera II. Power, Structure, and Mande Jeliw Barbara G. Hoffman III. The Semantics of jugu Blacksmiths, Lore, and WhoOs Bad in Mande Patrick R. McNaughton Part Two: Retracing Steps in Search of Social History IV. Linguistic Evidence for the History of West african oCastesO Tal Tamari V. Blind Man Meets Prophet Oral Tradition, Islam, and fune Identity David C. Conrad VI. Soninke garankew and Bamana-Malinke jeliw Mande Leatherworkers, Identity, and the Diaspora Barbara E. Frank Part Three: The Power of Agency and Identity VII. The Dieli of Korhogo Identity and Identification Robert Launay VIII. Women Craft Specialists in Jenne The Manipulation of Mande Social Categories Adria LaViolette IX. Jaliya in the Modern World A Tribute to Banzumana Sissko and Massa Makan Diabate Cheick Mahamadou Cherif Keita CONTRIBUTORS INDEX
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About David C. Conrad

DAVID C. CONRAD is Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York at Oswego. He is editor and cotranslator with Soumaila Diakite of A State of Intrigue: The Epic of Bamana Segu According to Tayiru Banbera. BARBARA E. FRANK is Assistant Professor of Art History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked in Mali and Sierra Leone on Mande leatherworking traditions and with women potters in Mali.
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