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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Ethnic Pluralism and Homogeneity in the Western Sudan: Saalum, Segu, Wasulu
Author:Klein, Martin A.
Periodical:Mande Studies
Geographic term:West Africa
Subjects:social integration
plural society
Ethnic and Race Relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
Literature, Mass Media and the Press
Abstract:This paper compares the way in which people in the western Sudan were integrated in centralized and decentralized States in the 19th century. It starts with a model of political economy proposed by Richard Roberts and based on the case of Segou. This model shows that the State was based almost everywhere in the savannah zone on a relationship between warrior and merchant elites. The paper then looks at a decentralized society, Wasulu, and asks how diverse groups were integrated into Wasulunke society and how Wasulunke communities were able to effectively mobilize people to resist the increasing intrusions of the slave trade. It argues that in neither model was ethnicity an important variable. It is not clear whether 19th-century West Africans identified in any way with others speaking the same language, but operational links between people were primarily local, ties of kinship and of community. These were transcended within the Western Sudan by membership in status groups, which cut across linguistic lines, and allegiance to States. Bibliogr., notes, ref.