Landscapes, Sources and Intellectual Projects of the West African Past offers a comprehensive assessment of new directions in the historiography of West Africa. With twenty-four chapters by leading researchers in the study of West African history and cultures, the volume examines the main trends in multiple fields including the critical interpretation of Arabic sources; new archaeological surveys of trans-Saharan trade; the discovery of sources in Latin America relating to pan-Atlantic histories; and the continuing analysis of oral histories. The volume is dedicated to Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias, whose work inspired the intellectual reorientations discussed in its chapters and stands as the clearest formulation of the book’s central focus on the relationship between political conjunctures and the production of sources.
Contributors are: Benjamin Acloque, Karin Barber, Seydou Camara, Mamadou Diawara, Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias, François-Xavier Fauvelle, Nikolas Gestrich, Toby Green, Bruce Hall, Jan Jansen, Shamil Jeppie, Daouda Keita, Murray Last, Robin Law, Camille Lefebvre, Paul Lovejoy, Ghislaine Lydon, Carlos Magnavita, Sonja Magnavita, Kevin MacDonald, Thomas McCaskie, Ann McDougall, Daniela Moreau, Mauro Nobili, Insa Nolte, Abel-Wedoud Ould-Cheikh, Benedetta Rossi, Charles Stewart.
Toby Green is Senior Lecturer in Lusophone African History and Culture at King’s College London. He is the author of
The Rise of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in Western Africa, 1300-1589 (Cambridge, 2012).
Benedetta Rossi is Reader in African Studies at the University of Birmingham. She is the author of
From Slavery to Aid: Politics, Labour, and Ecology in the Nigerien Sahel, 1800-2000 (Cambridge 2015).
Notes on Contributors
Part 1: Archaeology and Material Landscapes
All that Glitters is not Gold: Facing the Myths of Ancient Trade between North and Sub-Saharan Africa Sonja Magnavita and Carlos Magnavita 2
African Archaeology and the ‘Chalk Line Effect’: A Consideration of Māli City and Siğilmāsa François-Xavier Fauvelle 3
The ‘Pays Dô’ and the Origins of the Empire of Mali Kevin C. MacDonald, Nikolas Gestrich, Seydou Camara, Daouda Keita
Part 2: Imagined Landscapes and Moral Topographies
Imitation and Creativity in the Establishment of Islam in Oyo Insa Nolte 5
Fante ‘Origins’: The Problematic Evidence of ‘Tradition’ Robin Law 6
The Unknowns of the Modern Era in the Greater Western Sahara: Reassessing the Territorial Location of the Wlād Dlaym (15th–17th Centuries) Benjamin Acloque 7
The Almoravids and Ašʿarism: Regarding the Work of al-Murādī al-Ḥaḍramī Abdel Wedoud Ould-Cheikh
Part 3: Contextualising Writing and Written Sources
Inscribing the Now and the Hereafter: First Writings in Early African History Ghislaine Lydon 9
New Reinventions of the Sahel: Reflections on the Taʾrīḫ Genre in the Timbuktu Historiographical Production, Seventeenth to Twentieth Centuries Mauro Nobili 10
Calibrating the Scholarship of Timbuktu Charles C. Stewart 11
Rethinking the Place of Timbuktu in the Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa Bruce S. Hall 12
Two Examples of Sahelian Book Collectors Over Two Centuries Shamil Jeppie
Part 4: Contextualising Orature and Traditionalists
The Time-Tested Traditionist: Intellectual Trajectory and Mediation from the Early Empires to the Present day Mamadou Diawara 14
The Next Generation: Young Griots’ Quest for Authority Jan Jansen 15
In Praise of History; History as Praise Karin Barber 16
From Essentialism to Pluralisms: New Directions in Precolonial West African History from the Oral History Archive at Fajara, the Gambia Toby Green 17
Dreamworlds: Cultural Narrative in Asante Visionary Experience Thomas C. McCaskie
Part 5: Projects, Texts, and Representations
The Life of a Text: Carsten Niebuhr and ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Aġa’s Das innere von Afrika Camille Lefebvre 19
The Kano Chronicle Revisited Paul E. Lovejoy 20
Slavery or Death in Sokoto and Borno: Tactics, Legalities and Sources Murray Last 21
A Story of Exile, a Story in Exile: Louis Hunkanrin, Mauritania and ‘Un Forfait Colonial’ (Revisited) E. Ann McDougall 22
Edmond Fortier (1862–1928): Photographer, Documentarian and Creator of Stereotypes in West Africa Daniela Moreau
Afterword: Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias’ Publications and Interview Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias Interpreting Sources of the African Past: An Interview with Paulo Fernando de Moraes Farias by Benedetta Rossi
All interested in West African history, African history generally, and – beyond Africanists – anyone concerned with historical theory and methods for the exegesis and interpretation of sources.