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Historical and contemporary accounts
Narrating the pilgrimage to Mecca discusses a wide variety of historical and contemporary personal accounts of the pilgrimage to Mecca, most of which presented in English for the first time. The book addresses how being situated in a specific cultural context and moment in history informs the meanings attributed to the pilgrimage experience. The various contributions reflect on how, in their stories, pilgrims draw on multiple cultural discourses and practices that shape their daily lifeworlds to convey how the pilgrimage to Mecca speaks to their senses and moves them emotionally. Together, the written memoirs and oral accounts discussed in the book offer unique insights in Islam’s rich and evolving tradition of hajj and ʿumra storytelling.

Contributors
Kholoud Al-Ajarma, Piotr Bachtin, Vladimir Bobrovnikov, Marjo Buitelaar, Nadia Caidi, Simon Coleman, Thomas Ecker, Zahir Janmohamed, Khadija Kadrouch-Outmany, Ammeke Kateman, Yahya Nurgat, Jihan Safar, Neda Saghaee, Leila Seurat, Richard van Leeuwen and Miguel Ángel Vázquez.

Abstract

Religious studies of Rwanda typically focus on Christianity’s involvement before, during, and after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, also referred to as the Rwandan Genocide. Rwanda’s postgenocide reconstruction has witnessed new and changing political and social commitments by previously established religious organisations such as the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Adventist Churches. The Rwandan government has taken a more progressive stance on divisions of power and religious institutions, and the promotion of religious freedoms that has benefitted the domestic Muslim population. This essay examines how Judaism, a previously unknown religion in the region, is impacting Rwandan identity formation. Jewish identity is increasingly being tied to the nation’s own reconstructed identity, with a strong focus on historical persecution, rebuilding after genocide, and development. This essay suggests that Rwandan identity and religious studies should include the ever-growing ties with Jews and Israel to better understand its political and social reconstruction since 1994.

Open Access
In: Journal of Religion in Africa
In: African Diaspora
Author:

Abstract

There is a growing understanding that migration trajectories can be complex – spanning several destination countries and including multi-directional mobilities. This paper contributes to the ongoing theorisation of diasporas through a focus on the ‘return mobilities of onward migrants’ – return moves of individuals who have lived in several destination countries either to Nigeria or a previous country of residence. Given that a longing to return to the ancestral homeland has generally been understood as a defining feature of diasporas, relatively few studies have focused on ‘returns’ to other countries or locales. Based on research with Nigerian migrants in Germany, England and Spain, this paper explores some of the core elements that structure their transnational practices and mediate experiences of return mobility, including family dynamics at different life stages and evolving understandings of ‘belonging’. Thereby, this paper highlights the shifting geographic constellations of transnational families and the variety of ‘return’ mobility patterns.

Open Access
In: African Diaspora

Abstract

Late antique and medieval cotton and wool textiles found in the middle Nile Valley (Nubia, northern Sudan) were analysed for their technical characteristics and strontium (Sr) isotope composition. All wool textiles exhibit Sr isotope signatures consistent with the isotopic background of the region studied and are considered to be of local origin. However, a medieval wool kilim from Meinarti shows technical and aesthetic features suggesting its foreign Maghreb provenance. As this fabric dates back to the occupation of Meinarti by the Beni Ikrima tribe, it is suggested that the kilim was woven by the Beni Ikrima people from local Nubian raw material. The cotton samples tested come from abroad and document trade with the oases of the Egyptian Western Desert, the west coast of India, and perhaps also with the Arabian Peninsula or Pakistan.

Open Access
In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

The extent to which the diacritic layer (taškīl) of the Arabic writing system is employed in modern typeset text differs considerably between genres and individual texts, with many in-between forms not aptly captured by the traditional binary categories of “vowelled” and “unvowelled” text. This article is the first to present a theoretical account of this variation applicable to modern typeset Standard Arabic. It is suggested that diacritics serve three basic functions: facilitation of reading comprehension; facilitation of prescriptively correct diction; and to evoke associations with other texts. Six modes of diacritization in modern typeset text are identified and related to data on rates of diacritization from a corpus of electronically published books. Further lines of research based on this framework are suggested.

Open Access
In: Arabica
In: Brill's Journal of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics

Abstract

Land reform in South Africa has been criticised for its failure to significantly improve beneficiaries’ livelihoods. Among the reasons is the government’s stubborn enforcement of large-scale farming on land reform projects. This article presents the experiences of land reform beneficiaries on a single case farm in Limpopo Province, confirming, on one hand, that indeed the capital-intensive model of production negatively affects their production and livelihoods. On the other, the article shows that where alternative land uses are introduced, even alongside large-scale farming, land contributes to beneficiaries’ livelihoods. The article argues that a nuanced analysis that goes beyond the narrow commercial and econometric value of land, to include its social value, allows us to comprehend the full extent of land’s contribution to rural livelihoods in South Africa.

Open Access
In: Africa Review
Author:

Abstract

Bone tools from Taforalt Cave constitute the largest North African Later Stone Age (LSA) bone tool technocomplex recovered to-date. Use-trace analyses show that the small, pointed forms which dominate the assemblage show microtopographic patterning consistent with ethnographic bone tools used to make coiled basketry. The presence of coiled basketry likely scaffolded emergent cultural forms reflected in increased sedentism, resource intensification, and greater population density at Taforalt. This study explores the relationship between coiled basketry and archaeologically co-occurring technologies. Ethnographic analogies derived from Indigenous Californian groups provide a model for how resource-specific collection, processing, storage, and preparation requirements may have been supported technologically.

Open Access
In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

Archaeological mitigation efforts in advance of Lesotho’s Metolong Dam involved comprehensive documentation of rock paintings in the area threatened with inundation, as well as pigment characterisation and direct dating. This paper gives an overview of the rock arts found and their key features. Four traditions are present. Most paintings belong to the fine-line San tradition, but there are also examples of Type 3 images previously only recognised in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Two other traditions are identified as being made by local Basotho communities. Contextual evidence suggests that they relate to male identity and, in the case of ochre smears and handprints, specifically to male initiation rituals. Some of the rock art sites identified are, in fact, used today by male and female initiation schools. The importance of comprehensively documenting rock art in other locations where it is at risk of being lost via development projects is stressed. Metolong sets a standard for rock art recording in cultural resource management work in the wider region.

Open Access
In: Journal of African Archaeology