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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ideology and Oral Traditions: Listening to the Voices 'From Below'
Author:Hamilton, C.A.ISNI
Periodical:History in Africa
Geographic term:Africa
oral traditions
Education and Oral Traditions
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://doi.org/10.2307/3171833
Abstract:This paper addresses the debate over the status of oral traditions as historical sources, with special reference to the use of traditions in the illumination of the precolonial past. It examines the relationship between ideology and oral traditions in nonliterate societies in Africa. The argument is that, far from simply representing the interests of a particular group, oral traditions often reflect ideological struggles between the rulers and ruled in a society. Carefully unpacked and 'deconstructed', oral traditions can provide some evidence of 'voices from below'. Often this evidence can be found, not in the consistency of oral traditions, but in their very contradictions and 'fault lines'. It is suggested that the great value of oral traditions as historical sources lies in precisely that aspect which has been considered to be one of their greatest weaknesses, their fundamentally ideological nature. Notes, ref.