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This article explores the strategies of emancipation of former Tuareg slaves (iklan) in the Gao region of northern French Sudan (present-day Mali) during the late 1940s and 1950s. In the wake of the war effort and shifting colonial policy, and in spite of colonial tolerance toward vestiges of slavery, iklan engaged in local and long-distance migrations aimed at achieving emancipation. The article argues that the most successful spatial strategies were new migratory patterns in the Gao region through which iklan appropriated productive resources (herds and pastures) that were previously controlled by their ex-masters. More than labor migrations to cities, these local trajectories destabilized Tuareg hierarchies, forcing colonial administrators to address demands of the iklan emancipation movement.

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Several people have provided insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article. I would especially like to thank Charles Grémont, Robert Launay, André Marty, Bernedetta Rossi, as well as the three anonymous reviewers.

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The Journal of African History
  • ISSN: 0021-8537
  • EISSN: 1469-5138
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-african-history
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