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Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara
Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century

$118.00 (C)

Part of African Studies

  • Date Published: April 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107022126

$ 118.00 (C)
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About the Authors
  • Smugglers and Saints of the Sahara describes life on and around the contemporary border between Algeria and Mali, exploring current developments in a broad historical and socioeconomic context. Basing her findings on long-term fieldwork with trading families, truckers, smugglers, and scholars, Judith Scheele investigates the history of contemporary patterns of mobility from the late nineteenth century to the present. Through a careful analysis of family ties and local economic records, this book shows how long-standing mobility and interdependence have shaped not only local economies, but also notions of social hierarchy, morality, and political legitimacy, creating patterns that endure today and that need to be taken into account in any empirically-grounded study of the region.

    • Up-to-date fieldwork in an area that is difficult to access and has hardly been researched
    • The use of private manuscript archives so far unstudied by Western scholars
    • A framework that allows readers to draw connections between historical material and contemporary developments
    • Accessible writing
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "The Sahara is neither a romantic land of luxury-laden camel caravans nor a vast empty darkness hiding the likes of al-Qa’ida. Judith Scheele’s Sahara is the most dynamic 'space' in today’s Africa, one brought alive by ceaselessly expanding and contracting human networks that invest in 'place' even as mobility defines 'community'. Scheele brings us into al-Khalil, the infamous Malian-Algerian-frontier trans-shipment centre where “men are men”, virtue non-existent and 'family-loyalty' the definition of survival. She introduces us to the multi-national work teams of enormous transport trucks that criss-cross the desert with foodstuffs, cigarettes and cocaine, licit and illicit loads side-by-side, protected by always-present AK-47s. During sixteen months, Scheele – as itinerant as her informants – observed, questioned, interviewed; in sedentary moments, she accessed family-held Arabic documents revealing these contemporary 'business networks' to have deep historical, Islamic roots. Scholarship is impressive, arguments convincing; this is the book many who know the Sahara will wish they had written."
    – E. Ann McDougall, University of Alberta

    "Smugglers and Saints is a dynamic and informative book based on tireless multisite research in local and colonial archives and among long-distance entrepreneurs, dispersed families and itinerant communities. Scheele approaches Saharan truck stops and oasis towns as dynamic nodes dependent on constant interchange with other nodes that together form a web of 'Saharan connectivity'. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the region and in carrying out trans-Saharan fieldwork."
    – Ghislaine Lydon, University of California, Los Angeles

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107022126
    • length: 288 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.59kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 5 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Founding saints and moneylenders: regional ecologies and oasis settlement
    2. Saints on trucks: Algerian traders and settlement in the biblād al-sūdān
    3. Dates, cocaine, and AK 47s: moral conundrums on the Algero–Malian border
    4. Struggles over encompassment: hierarchy, genealogies, and their contemporary use
    5. Universal law and local containment: assemblies, qudāh and the quest for civilisation
    6. Settlement, mobility, and the daily pitfalls of Saharan cosmopolitanism
    Conclusion: Saharan connectivity and the 'swamp of terror'
    Glossary
    References
    Index.

  • Author

    Judith Scheele, University of Oxford
    Judith Scheele is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University. She is a social anthropologist who has conducted extensive fieldwork in North Africa and the Sahel. She is the author of Village Matters: Knowledge, Politics and Community in Kabylia, Algeria (2009).

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