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Periodical article Periodical article ASC Leiden catalogue ASC Leiden catalogue
Title:When marrying a Muslim: the social code of political elites in the Western Sudan, c. 1600-c. 1850
Author:Jansen, JanISNI
Year:2016
Periodical:The Journal of African History (ISSN 1469-5138)
Volume:57
Issue:1
Pages:25-45
Language:English
Geographic terms:Guinea-Bissau
Guinea
Mali
Subjects:Mali polity
epics
marriage
elite
State formation
Islam
matriarchy
Link:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021853715000237
Abstract:This study analyzes the marriage patterns in accounts of 'founder strangers' and 'firstcomers'. By telling whether and when a child from a marriage between a Muslim and a warrior was successful or not, the accounts reveal the social code of the political elites in the Western Sudan in the period c. 1600- c. 1850. This social code expressed the elites' concern with legitimizing their political autonomy as well as with reproducing their ruling position in a context of increasing warfare and growing reformist Islam. This social code structured accounts of both matrilineal warrior rulers and patrilineal Muslim rulers. Though methodologically rooted in classical approaches, historiographically this study contributes not only to recent research on state formation in Kaabu (present-day Guinea-Bissau) and Kankan (present-day Guinea), but also offers an approach to the Sunjata epic that hints at a seventeenth- and eighteenth-century origin of most of the epic as we know it. These fresh insights may shed new light on the history of the Mali Empire and its aftermath, and on processes of state formation in the Western Sudan in general. Notes, ref. [Journal abstract]

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