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Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin

Archaeology, History and Memory

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Edited by Anne Haour

In Two Thousand Years in Dendi, Northern Benin an international team examines a little-known part of the Niger River valley, West Africa, over the longue durée. This area, known as Dendi, has often been portrayed as the crossroads of major West African medieval empires but this understanding has been based on a small number of very patchy historical sources. Working from the ground up, from the archaeological sites, standing remains, oral traditions and craft industries of Dendi, Haour and her team offer the first in-depth account of the area.

Contributors are: Paul Adderley, Mardjoua Barpougouni, Victor Brunfaut, Louis Champion, Annalisa Christie, Barbara Eichhorn, Anne Filippini, Dorian Fuller, Olivier Gosselain, David Kay, Nadia Khalaf, Nestor Labiyi, Raoul Laibi, Richard Lee, Veerle Linseele, Alexandre Livingstone Smith, Carlos Magnavita, Sonja Magnavita, Didier N'Dah, Nicolas Nikis, Sam Nixon, Franck N’Po Takpara, Jean-François Pinet, Ronika Power, Caroline Robion-Brunner, Lucie Smolderen, Abubakar Sule Sani, Romuald Tchibozo, Jennifer Wexler, Wim Wouters.

The Stolen Bible

From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon

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Gerald O. West

The Stolen Bible tells the story of how Southern Africans have interacted with the Bible from its arrival in Dutch imperial ships in the mid-1600s through to contemporary post-apartheid South Africa.

The Stolen Bible emphasises African agency and distinguishes between African receptions of the Bible and African receptions of missionary-colonial Christianity. Through a series of detailed historical, geographical, and hermeneutical case-studies the book analyses Southern African receptions of the Bible, including the earliest African encounters with the Bible, the translation of the Bible into an African language, the appropriation of the Bible by African Independent Churches, the use of the Bible in the Black liberation struggle, and the ways in which the Bible is embodied in the lives of ordinary Africans.

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Dorrit van Dalen

The seventeenth century was a period of major social change in central sudanic Africa. Islam spread from royal courts to rural communities, leading to new identities, new boundaries and new tasks for experts of the religion. Addressing these issues, the Bornu scholar Muḥammad al-Wālī acquired an exceptional reputation. Dorrit van Dalen’s study places him within his intellectual environment, and portrays him as responding to the concerns of ordinary Muslims. It shows that scholars on the geographical margins of the Muslim world participated in the debates in the centres of Muslim learning of the time, but on their own terms. Al-Wālī’s work also sheds light on a century in the Islamic history of West Africa that has until now received little attention.

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Hilary C. Palmer and Malyn D.D. Newitt

Henry Edward O’Neill was British Consul in Mozambique from 1879 to 1889. He completed thirteen exploratory journeys in northern Mozambique, including the first exploration of the Makua and Lomwe countries between Mozambique Island and Lake Malawi. This recreation of the book, which he never published, makes available for the first time a large body of information on the peoples of northern Mozambique (a region still little researched), on the history of the slave trade in the western Indian Ocean and on the expansion of Portuguese rule and the resistance to it by powerful local communities. The Introduction includes the first ever biographical study of O’Neill and his contribution to African exploration.

Saladin, the Almohads and the Banū Ghāniya

The Contest for North Africa (12th and 13th centuries)

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Amar S. Baadj

In Saladin, the Almohads and the Banū Ghāniya, Amar Baadj gives us the first comprehensive, modern study of a fascinating but little-known episode in the history of the medieval Mediterranean. This is the story of the long struggle between the Almohad caliphs of the Maghrib, the Banū Ghāniya of Majorca, and the Ayyubids for dominance of North Africa.

The author makes use of important textual sources that have been ignored as well as new archaeological evidence to challenge some of the basic assumptions about the events in question. He also successfully places these events in their wider temporal and geographical context for the first time.

Convict Labor in the Portuguese Empire, 1740-1932

Redefining the Empire with Forced Labor and New Imperialism

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Timothy J. Coates

Forced convict labor provided the Portuguese with solutions to the growing criminal population at home and the lack of infrastructure in Angola and Mozambique. In Convict Labor in the Portuguese Empire, Timothy J. Coates examines the role of large numbers of convicts in Portuguese Africa from 1800 until 1932. This work examines the numbers, rationale, and realities of convict labor (largely) in Angola during this period, but Mozambique is a secondary area, as well as late colonial times in Brazil.

This is a unique, first study of an experiment in convict labor in Africa directed by a European power; it will be welcomed by scholars of Africa and New Imperialism, as well as those interested in law and labor.

Mission Station Christianity

Norwegian Missionaries in Colonial Natal and Zululand, Southern Africa 1850-1890

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Ingie Hovland

In Mission Station Christianity, Ingie Hovland presents an anthropological history of the ideas and practices that evolved among Norwegian missionaries in nineteenth-century colonial Natal and Zululand (Southern Africa). She examines how their mission station spaces influenced their daily Christianity, and vice versa, drawing on the anthropology of Christianity. Words and objects, missionary bodies, problematic converts, and the utopian imagination are discussed, as well as how the Zulus made use of (and ignored) the stations. The majority of the Norwegian missionaries had become theological cheerleaders of British colonialism by the 1880s, and Ingie Hovland argues that this was made possible by the everyday patterns of Christianity they had set up and become familiar with on the mission stations since the 1850s.

Hindu Gods in West Africa

Ghanaian Devotees of Shiva and Krishna

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Albert Wuaku

In Hindu Gods in West Africa, Wuaku offers an account of the histories, beliefs and practices of the Hindu Monastery of Africa and the Radha Govinda Temple, two Hindu Temples in Ghana. Using historical material and data from his field work in southern Ghana, Wuaku shows how these two Hindu Temples build their traditions on popular Ghanaian religious notions about the powerful magicality of India's Hindu gods. He explores how Ghanaian soldiers who served in the colonial armies in India, Sri Lanka, and Burma during World War II, Bollywood films, and local magicians, have contributed to the production and the spreading of these cultural ideas. He argues that while Ghanaian worshippers appropriated and deployed the alien Hindu religious world through their own cultural ideas,as they engage Hindu beliefs and rituals in negotiating challenges their own worldviews would change considerably.

Governing the Empire: Provincial Administration in the Almohad Caliphate (1224-1269)

Critical Edition, Translation, and Study of Manuscript 4752 of the Ḥasaniyya Library in Rabat Containing 77 Taqādīm (“Appointments”)

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Pascal Buresi and Hicham El Aallaoui

In this book, Pascal Buresi and Hicham El Aallaoui edit, translate, and study an Arabic manuscript of the Royal Library of Rabat, containing 77 appointments of provincial officials. The Almohad Caliphs were the first Berbers to unite the whole Maghrib and the Iberian Peninsula under an imperial ideology elaborated at the end of the 12th C.E. by the most famous scholars, such as Averroes.
This peripheral Islamic dynasty produced a pragmatic documentation that provides exceptional information about the administrative, political, ideological, and religious organisation of the largest medieval European-African Empire. Buresi and El Aallaoui convincingly stress the importance of the literature of the Chancellery in renewing the history of power and authority in medieval Islamic lands.

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Cleo Cantone

This book constitutes a seminal contribution to the fields of Islamic architectural history and gender studies. It is the first major empirical study of the history and current state of mosque building in Senegal and the first study of mosque space from a gender perspective. The author positions Senegalese mosques within the field of Islamic architectural history, unraveling their history through pre-colonial travelers’ accounts to conversations with present-day planners, imams and women who continually shape and reshape the mosques they worship in. Using contemporary Dakar as a case study, the book’s second aim is to explore the role of women in the “making and remaking” of mosques. In particular, the rise of non-tariqa grass-roots movements (i.e.: the “Sunni/Ibadou” movement) has empowered women (particularly young women) and has greatly strengthened their capacity to use mosques as places of spirituality, education and socialization. The text is aimed at several specialized readerships: readers interested in Islam in West Africa, in the role of women in Islam, as well as those interested in the sociology and art-history of mosques.