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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The Text and Testimony in the 'Tribunal de Premiere Instance', Dakar, during the Early Twentieth Century
Author:Roberts, Richard
Year:1990
Periodical:The Journal of African History
Volume:31
Issue:3
Pages:447-463
Language:English
Geographic terms:Senegal
France
Subjects:colonialism
jurisprudence
colonial law
History and Exploration
Law, Human Rights and Violence
Link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/182879
Abstract:Historians have recently come to appreciate the importance of studying the colonial legal system and the potential in mining court cases for historical data. This article is a preliminary effort to present a methodology for the study of the records of the entry level civil court, the 'tribunal de première instance', in Dakar, Senegal. The records are somewhat peculiar, because they are the consequence of the extension of the legal rights to the African 'originaires' of the four communes of Senegal, which empowered them to bring civil cases before this court. However, these records share with records from other courts in colonial Africa problems of determining how the litigants' 'testimony' was shaped by the legal procedures of the court. This article, therefore, focusses on the context in which litigants' testimony was transformed into the texts we read as court records. In particular, it examines how the phases of litigation and how the court's bias towards written evidence shaped the court records. This research was stimulated in part by the need to locate new sources providing African 'voices' about the changes associated with the transition to colonialism. The article concludes with an appraisal of the historical potential of using court records for African social history. App., notes, ref.
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