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A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600–1960

$94.00 (C)

Part of African Studies

  • Date Published: June 2011
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107002876

$94.00 (C)
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About the Authors
  • The mobilization of local ideas about racial difference has been important in generating, and intensifying, civil wars that have occurred since the end of colonial rule in all of the countries that straddle the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. From Sudan to Mauritania, the racial categories deployed in contemporary conflicts often hearken back to an older history in which blackness could be equated with slavery and non-blackness with predatory and uncivilized banditry. This book traces the development of arguments about race over a period of more than 350 years in one important place along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert: the Niger Bend in northern Mali. Using Arabic documents held in Timbuktu, as well as local colonial sources in French and oral interviews, Bruce S. Hall reconstructs an African intellectual history of race that long predated colonial conquest, and which has continued to orient inter-African relations ever since.

    • Examines a non-European form of racism
    • Presents a pre-colonial intellectual history of Africa
    • Offers a history of colonialism from below
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    Reviews & endorsements

    “Bruce Hall embarked on a great project to understand why racial arguments were so common in West Africa’s political contexts and yet so invisible in history books. His book is an objective and nuanced analysis of race relations. Anyone who wants to know about race relations in West Africa must read this brilliant study.” – Chouki El Hamel, Arizona State University

    “In this provocative and audacious challenge to the most influential paradigm of ‘race’ in African studies – Mamdani’s ‘contemporary racism as colonial legacy,’ Bruce Hall posits race as an atemporal language imbued with both deep historical meaning and widespread contemporary exigency. Hall brings to his analysis not only the texts of Islamic scholars, but also the voices and views of local Songhay slave-descendants and farmers. Conceptualized in the context of the present, it draws on an enormous interdisciplinary arsenal of languages, methodologies, and theories to engage with an historical concern that spans time and space – namely when, why, and how do people ‘chose’ racial construction to order their lives? And with what consequences? This is African history at its best because, like the world about which Hall writes, it will take its place in the ongoing dialogue about race that extends well beyond Africa.” – Ann McDougall, University of Alberta

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107002876
    • length: 360 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.7kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 5 maps
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction
    Part I. Race Along the Desert-Edge, c.1600–1900:
    1. Making race in the Sahel, c.1600–1900
    2. Reading the blackness of the Sudan, c.1600–1900
    Part II. Race and the Colonial Encounter, c.1830–1936:
    3. Meeting the Tuareg
    4. Colonial conquest and statecraft in the Niger Bend, c.1893–1936
    Part III. The Morality of Descent, 1893–1940:
    5. Defending hierarchy: Tuareg arguments about authority and descent, c.1893–1940
    6. Defending slavery: the moral order of inequality, c.1893–1940
    7. Defending the river: Songhay arguments about land, c.1893–1940
    Part IV. Race and Decolonization, 1940–60:
    8. The racial politics of decolonization, 1940–60
    Conclusion.

  • Author

    Bruce S. Hall, Duke University
    Bruce S. Hall is an assistant professor at Duke University. His work appears in the Journal of North African Studies, the International Journal of African Historical Studies and the Journal of African Studies. Professor Hall previously held positions as an assistant professor at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) and as an Andrew W. Mellon postdoctoral fellow at The Johns Hopkins University.

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