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The Faggāra Enigma: Commerce, Credit, and Agriculture in the Algerian Touat*

  • Judith Scheele (a1)

In the Touat, a group of oases in southern Algeria, local economies depend on outside sources of investment and thus participate in larger economic and socio-political projects. Land and water property are scattered, and ownership rights are complex and overlapping. Local economies are pervaded by monetary expressions that help to create debts, forcing the majority of producers into a situation of chronic dependence. Islamic law is freely adopted in order to redefine local transactions in universalizing terms and thereby to inscribe the local into a wider intellectual and spiritual world. Hence, oases appear to be the result of a movement of internal colonization, in political, commercial, and spiritual terms.

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This article is based on fifteen months of fieldwork in southern Algeria and northern Mali, carried out in 2007-2008 and funded by Magdalen College, the University of Oxford, and the British Academy (Grant no. SG-47632). I would like to thank Julien Brachet and the editorial board of Les Annales for their careful reading of the manuscript for this article and their critical remarks.

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1. Pascon, Paul, La maison d’Iligh et l’histoire sociale du Tazerwalt (Rabat: Société marocaine des Éditeurs réunis, 1984), 9-10 . Except for the last sentence (which was done by the translator of this article), this is a revised version of the author’s translation as it appears in Scheele, Judith, “Traders, Saints and Irrigation: Reflections on Saharan Connectivity,” Journal of African History 50 (2010): 284-85 .

2. On the development of contemporary Saharan towns, see: Pliez, Olivier, Villes du Sahara, urbanisation et urbanité dans le Fezzan libyen (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2003); Côte, Marc, ed., La ville et le désert, le bas Sahara algérien (Paris: Karthala, 2005); Boesen, Elisabeth and Marfaing, Laurence, eds., Les nouveaux urbains dans l’espace Sahara-Sahel. Un cosmopolitisme par le bas (Paris: Karthala, 2007); and Choplin, Armelle, Nouakchott. Au carrefour de la Mauritanie et du monde (Paris: Karthala, 2009 ).

3. Pliez, Villes du Sahara; Bensaâd, Ali, “Eau, urbanisation et mutations sociales dans le Bas-Sahara,” in La ville et le désert, le bas Sahara algérien, ed. Côte, Marc (Paris: Karthala, 2005), 95-122 .

4. Retaillé, Denis, “Avertissement,” special issue dedicated to “Études sahéliennes” [Sahelian studies], Cahiers géographiques de Rouen 26 (1986): 2 and “Les oasis dans une géographie méridienne Sahara-Sahel,” ibid., 3-16.

5. See, for instance, Haarmann, Ulrich, “The Dead Ostrich: Life and Trade in Ghadames (Libya) in the Nineteenth Century,” Die Welt des Islams 38-1 (1998): 9-94 ; Lydon, Ghislaine, On Trans-Saharan Trails: Islamic Law, Trade Networks, and Cross-Cultural Exchange in Nineteenth-Century Western Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009); and Scheele, Judith, “Traders, Saints and Irrigation: Reflections on Saharan Connectivity,” Journal of African History 51-3 (2010): 281-300 .

6. McDougall, E. Ann, “Conceptualising the Sahara: The World of Nineteenth-Century Beyrouk Commerce,” The Journal of North African Studies 10-3/4 (2005): 369-86 .

7. There are numerous juridical sources relating to the Touat, of which the material discussed here only represents a small portion: the Nawāzil al-Ghuniya (NG) a collection of responsa given by the qādi of Timmi near Adrar, Abū ‘Abd Allāh Sīdi al-Hājj Muhammad b. Abd al-Rahmān al-Balbālī (1155AH/ 1742 CE - 1244 AH/ 1828 CE) and his son Sīdi Muhammad Abd al-’Azīz (born in 1199 AH/1776 CE); the register of the qādi of Timmi Sīdi ‘Abd al-Karīm b. ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Bakrawī (Sijill al-qādi, SQ) drawn up in the 1930s and 1940s; the register of the fagāgīr Adjalloune and al-Hājj in the district of Timmi (Zamām al-Faggāra, ZF), dating from the 1950s; and the private archives of the Ma’zūz family in Talmin and the Balbālī family in Kusan, and the assembly minutes of the qsar of Tit near In Salah (Sijill al-Jamā’a, SJ) which record the decisions of the assembly along with municipal receipts and expenditure from 1962 to 1977. All these documents are held in private archives in the Touat, and I would particularly like to thank their owners for allowing me the opportunity to consult them.

8. Barathon, Jean-Jacques, Abassi, Hassan El and Lechevalier, Claude, “Les oasis de la région de Tata (Maroc). Abandon de la vie oasienne traditionnelle et adaptation à la vie urbaine,” Annales de Géographie 644 (2005): 450 .

9. Bédoucha, Geneviève, “Libertés coutumières et pouvoir central. L’enjeu du droit de l’eau dans les oasis du Maghreb,” Études Rurales 155-56 (2000):118-19 .

10. Ibid., 118 and 139. My aim here is not to deny the considerable impact—incomparable with all prior development—of the intervention of the colonial and, later the independent state in the internal management of resources essential for the oasis, and the resultant loss of autonomy. See also the excellent monograph by the same author, Geneviève Bédoucha, “L’eau, l’amie du puissant”: Une communauté oasienne du Sud-tunisien (Paris: Éd. des archives contemporaines, 1987).

11. Grandguillaume, Gilbert, “De la coutume à la loi. Droit de l’eau et statut des communautés locales dans le Touat précolonial,” Peuples méditerranéens 2 (1978): 120 and 131 .

12. Grandguillaume, Gilbert, “Le droit de l’eau dans les Foggara du Touat au XVIIIe siècle,” Revue des études islamiques 18-2 (1975): 320 .

13. Bédoucha, “Libertés coutumières et pouvoir central,” 139.

14. Bisson, Jean, Mythes et réalités d’un désert convoité: le Sahara (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2004), 210 .

15. For more detailed discussion of the functioning and history of the fagāgīr in the Touat, see: Cornet, André, “Essai sur l’hydrologie du Grand Erg Occidental et des régions limitrophes. Les Foggaras,” Travaux de l’Institut des Recherches Sahariennes 8 (1952): 71-122 ; Lo, Capitaine, “Les foggara du Tidikelt,” Travaux de l’Institut des Recherches Sahariennes 10 (1953): 139-79 and no. 11 (1954): 49-77; Robert Capot-Rey and W. Damade, “Irrigation et structure agraire à Tamentit,” Travaux de l’Institut des Recherches Sahariennes 21 (1962): 99-119; and Jacques Vallet, “Une oasis à foggara, Tamentit,” in Oasis du Sahara algérien, eds. Claude Nesson, Madeleine Rouvillois-Brigol and Jacques Vallet (Paris: Institut géographique national, 1973).

16. Capot-Rey and Damade, “Irrigation,” 99.

17. Oliel, Jacob, Les Juifs au Sahara. Le Touat au Moyen Âge (Paris: CNRS Éditions, 1994). Oliel attributes a Jewish origin to them. On the basis of recent archaeological data, see Wilson, Andrew, “The Spread of Foggara-Based Irrigation in the Ancient Sahara,” in The Libyan Desert: Natural Resources and Cultural Heritage, eds. Mattingly, David J. et al. (London: Society for Libyan Studies, 2006), 205-16 . Wilson defends the hypothesis of an eastern origin via the Fezzan.

18. See, for instance: NG, 145-46; Grandguillaume, “Droit de l’eau.”

19. For comparable examples of collective “provisions” in a Moroccan irrigation system, see Chiche, Jeanne, “Description de l’hydraulique traditionnelle,” in La question hydraulique, vol. 1, Petite et moyenne hydraulique au Maroc, eds. Bouderbala, Najib et al. (Rabat: Graphitec, 1984), 119-319 .

20. Similarly, an investor whether local or from outside, could decide to extend the faggāra at his own expense, thus increasing its flow; he was then entitled to half the extra water thus provided. See Bisson, Mythes et réalités d’un désert convoité, 209.

21. SJ, 5-7, 10, 20, 39, 505, 114, and 116.

22. “Recensement des populations du Touat,” 1911, box 23H91, Centre d’archives d’outre-mer (CAOM) d’Aix-en-Provence, Aix-en-Provence. The first civil status register in the Touat, inaugurated in the early twentieth century, mentions 10% of slaves and 43% of harātīn (generally defined in the region as descendents of slaves). Although these figures are not particularly reliable, they at least give an idea of the magnitude of the numbers involved.

23. “Recensements du Touat,” 1911-1950, 23H91, CAOM; 1933, 10H86, CAOM; and Hardy, “Une terre qui meurt: le Touat,” 30 April 1933, 10H86, CAOM.

24. On the proposition of keeping the slave trade in place, see: Vallier, “Rapport pour la Chambre de Commerce d’Alger,” 13 July 1876, 22H26, CAOM; “Lettre du Président de la chambre de commerce d’Alger au préfet d’Alger,” 28 October 1876, 10H86, CAOM; and “Lettre de Laperrine, Commandant militaire supérieur des oasis sahariennes, au Gouverneur Général de l’Algérie,” 22 January 1907, 12H50, CAOM. Despite the official abolition of slavery in 1848, it continued in the Sahara until the first decades of the twentieth century: see the numerous archived reports filed under 12H50, CAOM; Cordell, Dennis, “No Liberty, Not Much Equality, and Very Little Fraternity: The Mirage of Manumission in the Algerian Sahara in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century,” in Slavery and Colonial Rule in Africa, eds. Miers, Suzanne and Klein, Martin A. (London: Frank Cass, 1999), 38-56 ; and Brower, Benjamin, “Rethinking Abolition in Algeria: Slavery and the ‘Indigenous Question,’Cahiers d’études africaines 195 (2009): 805-28 .

25. “Note sur la question noire en Algérie,” 3H13, CAOM: “It is a now established fact that the oases of the Sahara are the fruit of the labor of Sudanese slaves. None other than the black man could, without consequences for their health, be that sufficiently robust and resistant human animal in these torrid climates capable of wrenching from the aridity of the desert landscape the staging-posts indispensable to the crossing of its desolate spaces. But the suppression of the slave trade means the slow death of the oases through the disappearance of a half-caste labor force, constantly bastardized and without means of renewal.” In addition to the other documents held under the same reference, see Scheele, Judith, “Travail et liberté en Algérie,” in L’esclavage, en noir et blanc ou en couleurs ? Méditerranée, du Moyen Age au XXe siècle, eds. Botte, Roger and Stella, Alessandro (Paris: Karthala), forthcoming.

26. See also Retaillé, “Avertissement,” 1: “Of course, water is indispensable for the occupation of the desert, but mastery of water resources supposes a considerable investment in terms of work, that is, the mobilization of a large workforce: the project and the supervisory staff need to pre-exist.”

27. Martin, Alfred-Georges-Paul, À la frontière du Maroc. Les oasis sahariennes (Gourara, Touat, Tidikelt) (Alger: Impr. algérienne, 1908), 306-8 .

28. Martin, À la frontière du Maroc, 383.

29. “Rapport annuel, annexe du Touat,” 1909, 23H91, CAOM.

30. From the 1920s on, an ever-increasing number of oasis dwellers were obliged to take jobs on public-works projects in order to obtain the cash needed to pay their taxes. Though this did not make the situation any less exploitative, the money with which to pay the taxes had to come mostly from French coffers.

31. See “Rapports annuels, annexe du Tidikelt,” 1907, 1910, 1913, 1928, 1951, and 1952, 23H102, CAOM.

32. “Rapport annuel, annexe du Touat,” 1945, 23H91, CAOM..

33. Horden, Peregrine and Purcell, Nicholas, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000), 272 .

34. Retaillé, Denis, “L’espace nomade,” Revue de géographie de Lyon 73-1 (1998): 3 .

35. Geoffroy, Auguste, Arabes pasteurs nomades de la tribu des Larbas (Paris: 1887), 409-64 .

36. Bugéja, Manuel, “L’estivage des Larbaâ dans le Tell,” Bulletin de la Société de Géographie d’Alger 121 (1930): 1-19 . See also Yves Bonète, “Contribution à l’étude des pasteurs nomades Arbâ’a” (PhD diss., Paris, 1962).

37. Chardenet, “Aoulef,” n. d. (early 1900s), 22H50, CAOM..

38. Simon, “Note sur le Tidikelt,” 20 June 1900, 22H50, CAOM.

39. Muhammad Mahmūd wuld Shaykh, “Kitāb al-turjamān fī tārīkh al-saharā’ wa alsūdān wa bilād tinbuktu wa shinjīt wa arawān wa nubadh fī tārīkh al-zaman fī jamī’a al-buldān,” 1933, MS no. 762, Centre d’Études et de Documentation Ahmed Baba (CEDRAB), Timbuktu; al-Shaykh Abī al-Khayr ‘Abd Allāh al-Arawānī, “Tārīkh Arawān wa Tawdanni,” 1962, 621, CEDRAB; and Colonial Monthly Reports on the Border Area, 28H1, CAOM.

40. Thus, the (rudimentary) “customary law” of the qsu¯r, recorded by French officers in the region, is almost exclusively made up of provisions for welcoming guests: “Annexe du Touat. Propositions du chef de l’annexe pour l’hébergement des hôtes arabes au chef-lieu,” 9 April 1902, 22H48, CAOM; Régnault, “Rapport sur l’Oued Dra par le chef de l’annexe de Beni Abbès,” 5 January 1904, 22H50, CAOM. Judging by the Ghuniya, this welcome could at times end in a demand for ransom (NG, 142).

41. Eldblom, Lars, Structure foncière, organisation et structure sociale. Une étude sur la vie socio-économique dans les trois oasis libyennes de Ghat, Mourzouk et particulièrement Ghadamès (Lund: Uniskol, 1968).

42. Ibid., 166.

43. Ibid., 214.

44. Ibid., 145.

45. Martin, À la frontière du Maroc; Capot-Rey and Damade, “Irrigation,” 106. Elsewhere, it was sha’anba traders originally from Metlili who were the “top dogs” as far as water ownership was concerned: see also Bisson, Mythes et réalités d’un désert convoité, 210.

46. SQ, 20-21.

47. SQ, 16-20.

48. SQ, 34.

49. What then, the qādi of the Ghuniya is asked, should be done if a garden is sold to someone else, along with its share of water, when this share is leased to a third party? The lease is valid until the end of the contract, says the qādi. And if someone buys a garden irrigated with water that does not belong to him, and which he leases? The purchaser can carry on with the lease, or give it up, whichever he prefers. Furthermore, if he gives it up, he does not owe the owner of the water anything. Does ownership of a garden automatically entail that of its irrigation channel? No, the irrigation belongs “to the water,” that is, to the owner of the water (NG, 138, 140, and 145).

50. See, for instance, Hallaq, Wael B., Sharī’a: Theory, Practice, Transformations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 271-95 . For examples of such subterfuges used in the Yemen, see Mundy, Martha, Domestic Government: Kinship, Community and Polity in North Yemen (London: Tauris, 1995). For the de facto limitations on the application of the inheritance rules contained in the sharī’a, see David S. Powers, Studies in Qur’an and Hadith: The Formation of the Islamic Law of Inheritance (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986).

51. SQ, 19.

52. For a discussion of the various currencies in circulation in the Touat at the beginning of the colonial era, see Chentouf, Tayeb, “Les monnaies dans le Gourara, le Touat et le Tidikelt dans la seconde moitié du XIXe siècle,” in Enjeux sahariens, ed. Baduel, Pierre-Robert (Paris: Éd. du CNRS, 1984), 79-94 . The “Note sur le mouvement commercial qui s’est produit entre In Salah et le pays touareg pendant l’été et l’automne 1900” (22H50, CAOM) gives the following list (the spelling of the period has been left unchanged): the Spanish dourou, the French dourou (the 5 F coin, also called the cinco), the rabī’a (quarter), the waqiya (ounce), the mizouna, the tlétti (thirty), the settoujour, the tlétaouokt(three times), the silver riyāl, and the Marie-Theresa of Austria thaler, known as the mithqāl.

53. NG, 139 and 142.

54. These contracts are conserved in the archives of the Ma’zūz à Talmin family, and I was able to consult them thanks to the kind permission of Abd al-Qādir Ma’zūz.

55. Deed of inheritance held in the archives of the Balbālī family of Kusan, with the kind permission of Shaykh Tayyeb.

56. SQ, 25-7. Habba and qīrāt are measures of water which can vary from one qsar to another. Here, the dūru is the 5 F coin.

57. A large proportion of these debts were probably never repaid: what was involved was as much a strategy of accumulation of debtors as of actual debts. See also, Pascon, Paul, “Le commerce de la maison d’Iligh d’après le registre comptable de Husayn b. Hachem,Annales HSS 35-3/4 (1980): 707-8 . Lydon notes that in the Sahara, credit served as a “savings mechanism” in a context in which the distribution of money among a number of people—dependents of some sort or clients—makes more sense than accumulation in a fixed place which could never be secure. See Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails, 336.

58. NG, 142-43.

59. NG, 206: does it correspond to the value of the goods in Timbuktu or to the value that can be realized in the Touat? For a similar case, see NG, 146.

60. NG, 138, 212, 213, 206, and 216-17.

61. The mortgaging of land was a common practice even within families: between brother and sister (see, for instance, NG, 216) as well as between husband and wife (NG, 219-20). On loans within families in Mauritania, see Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails, 206-7.

62. NG, 218.

63. Lydon described the iqa¯la as a sale that includes a guarantee clause: if within a period determined at the time of purchase the buyer discovers a serious and unpredictable defect, he is entitled to be reimbursed with the seller’s consent. While such cases are sometimes to be found in the Ghuniya (such as when a “very fat” camel suddenly dies on a journey, 147-48), in most instances there is no mention of any defect and what is involved is, quite clearly, a thinly-disguised interest-bearing loan. See Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails, 304-6.

64. NG, 139.

65. NG, 139-40 and 141.

66. NG, 139.

67. Note excerpted from the archives of the al-Makkī al-Markāntī family, Zuwā traders residing in Adrar and Timimoun, with the kind permission of Mekki Kalloum. This is the author’s translation as it appears in Scheele, “Traders, Saints and irrigation,” 294.

68. Hamu Zafzaf, “Risāla” towards 1960, and other documents preserved in the Archives du Cercle de Kidal (ACK), Kidal, Mali.

69. “Rapport annuel, annexe du Tidikelt,” 1909, 23H102, CAOM. This is the author’s translation as it appears in Scheele, “Traders, Saints and irrigation,” 295.

70. Colonel de Fraguier, “Le commerce du Touat” (diss., Centre des hautes études sur l’Afrique et l’Asie modernes (CHEAM), 1948), Centre historique des archives nationales (CHAN), Fontainebleau.

71. This information is based on interviews carried out at Adrar, Tit, and Aoulef in 2007 and 2008.

72. “Rapport du CHEAM sur le Sahara,” 1958, AffPol 2178/6, CAOM; Reynaud, “Les commerçants transsahariens” (diss., CHEAM, 1957), CHAN.

73. “Le ministre de la Guerre au Gouverneur général de l’Algérie,” 28 April 1851, 22H13, CAOM; “Rapport annuel, annexe du Tidikelt,” 1911, 23H102, CAOM. For a study of similar financial networks in Morocco, see: Schroeter, Daniel J., Merchants of Essaouira: Urban Society and Imperialism in Southwestern Morocco, 1844-1886 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1988); Gutelius, David V., “‘The Path is Easy and the Benefits Large’: the Nasiriyya, Social Networks and Economic Change in Morocco, 1640-1830,Journal of African History 43-1 (2002): 27-49 .

74. “Lettre du général Marmet commandant la subdivision de Médéa au général commandant la division d’Alger,” 25 May 1893, 22H38, CAOM.

75. “Rapport du CHEAM sur le Sahara,” AffPol 2178/6, CAOM.

76. “Lettre du général commandant la division d’Alger, au sous-gouverneur de l’Algérie,” 21 January 1862, 22H13, CAOM; Chaintron, Capitaine J.-F., “Aoulef. Problèmes économiques d’une oasis à foggaras,” Travaux de l’Institut des recherches sahariennes 16 (1957): 101-30 ; and Capot-Rey and Damade, “Irrigation.”

77. “Monographie du Territoire militaire des oasis sahariennes, 1951/2,” 10H86, CAOM; Campens, “Les Chaamba du Gourara” (diss., CHEAM, 1962), CHAN; and Auguste Cauneille, Les Chaanba, leur nomadisme, évolution de la tribu durant l’administration française (Paris: Éd. du CNRS, 1968).

78. Reynaud, “Les commerçants transsahariens,” 27.

79. Simon, “Notices sur le Tidikelt,” 20 June 1900, 22H50, CAOM.

80. Ibid.

81. For Agadez, see “Lettre du capitaine Métois, chef d’annexe d’In Salah au commandant militaire des oasis,” 19 July 1903, 28H2, CAOM. For Tessalit and Kidal, see the reports held in the archives of the prefecture of Kidal (ACK).

82. The first agricultural “settlers” in the Ahaggar found themselves in the presence of older irrigation systems: hence there may have been a sort of oscillation between expansion and contraction. See: Simon, “Notices,” and “Notices sur les districts du Tidikelt,” 21 May 1900, 22H50 CAOM; “Rapport de tournée du Capitaine Dinaux, chef de l’annexe d’In Salah. Ahnet, Adrar nigritien, Ahaggar, Aïr septentrional,” 3 May-29 October 1905, 22H68, CAOM; “Reconnaissance du bassin supérieur de l’Igharghar et visite du Sud du Ahaggar et de l’Ahnet. Rapport de tournée du Lieutenant Voinot,” hiver 1905-1906, 22H72, CAOM; and G. Barrère, “Contribution à l’étude de l’évolution sociale du centre de cultures d’Idélès,” CHEAM, cyclostyled document, library of the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’Homme (MMSH), Aix-en-Provence. See also Johannes Nicolaisen, Ecology and Culture of the Pastoral Tuareg, with Particular Reference to the Tuareg of Ahaggar and Ayr (Copenhagen: National Museum, 1963). Other harātīn who still reside in the Hoggar originally came from the agricultural oases of Djanet and Ghat: see Badi, Dida, “Genesis and Change in the Socio-Political Structure of the Tuareg,” in The Tuareg in a Globalised Society: Saharan Life in Transition, eds. Fisher, Anja and Kohl, Ines (London: I. B. Tauris & Co, 2010), 75-88 .

83. Captain Métois, “Lettre au commandant militaire des oasis,” 19 July 1903, Captain Métois, “Lettre au commandant militaire des oasis,” 19 July 1903, 28H2, 28H2, CAOM.

84. Dinaux, “Rapport,” 22H36, CAOM. On the zāwiya Mawlāy Hayba, see “Notes sur les personnages influents du Touat, Gourara, Tidikelt,” 1893, 22H36, CAOM.

85. Arnaud, L., “Siège d’Ain Madhi par El-Hadj Abd-el-Kader ben Mohi ed-Din,” Revue Africaine 47 (1864): 354-71 ; G. Hirtz, “Étude sur Laghouat, les Larbaâ, les Mekhalif, la zaouïa d’Aïn Mâdhî,” 1950, 8X192, CAOM; and Reports on the activities of the zāwiya, 16H44-5 and 51-3, CAOM.

86. Study carried out in spring 2006, in collaboration with Yazid Ben Hounet.

87. Pascon, La maison d’Iligh and “Le commerce de la maison d’Iligh”; Hammoudi, Abdallah, “Sainteté, pouvoir et société: Tamgrout aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles,” Annales HSS 35.3-4 (1980): 615-41 ; Gutelius, “‘The Path is Easy’”; and Jean-Louis Triaud, La légende noire de la Sanûsiyya. Une confrérie musulmane saharienne sous le regard français (Paris: IREMAN/MSH, 1995).

88. Albert, “La zaouïa de Kerzaz,” 22H70, CAOM; Commissariat de la politique en AOF, Affaires politiques musulmanes, “Rapport trimestriel, 1er trimestre 1950,” 28H1, CAOM.

89. Chardenet, “Akabli,” n. d. (early 1900s), 22H50, CAOM.

90. Arnaud, “Monographie de Baye,” 1918, box 1D305, Historical Collection, National Archives of Mali (ANM), Bamako.

91. Marty, Paul, Études sur l’islam et les tribus du Soudan, vol. 1, Les Kounta de l’Est. Les Berabich. Les Iguellad (Paris: E. Leroux, 1918-1919), 119-37 ; Gironcourt, Georges de, Missions de Gironcourt en Afrique occidentale 1908-1909 et 1911-1912. Documents scientifiques (Paris: Société de Géographie, 1920), 147-49 .

92. See also the documents preserved in the ACK; Clauzel, Jean, “Les hiérarchies sociales en pays touareg,” Travaux de l’Institut des recherches sahariennes 31-1 (1962): 145 .

93. Interview of Mekki Kalloum, Adrar, October 2007. There are numerous traders who claim to have introduced tea into the Sahara: for another example, see Lydon, On Trans-Saharan Trails, 24.

94. This does not necessarily reflect the Malian viewpoint. As the doyen of the Guindo family says: “One day, my father came home with an Algerian, a trader whom he had met in Gao and who was completely ignorant. My father was rich and very well respected, so he helped him: he showed him how to trade, with whom, how to speak to the people here and how to dress—that is how he became rich.” Interview in Gao, January 2008.

95. For other examples illustrating a similar logic and including the present era, see Scheele, Judith, Smugglers and Saints of the Central Sahara: Regional Connectivity in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012 ).

* This article is based on fifteen months of fieldwork in southern Algeria and northern Mali, carried out in 2007-2008 and funded by Magdalen College, the University of Oxford, and the British Academy (Grant no. SG-47632). I would like to thank Julien Brachet and the editorial board of Les Annales for their careful reading of the manuscript for this article and their critical remarks.

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