Status and Identity in West Africa

Nyamakalaw of Mande
Distribution: World
Publication date: 05/22/1995
ISBN: 978-0-253-11264-4
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... the contributors to Status and Identity in West Africa have swept away the dust that has obscured the study of the societies of western Sudan and have made it possible to pursue the salutory work of decolonizing the history and sociology of these regions."—American Ethnologist

This discussion is among the most significant contributions that African studies can make to the contemporary global dialogue on multicultural issues." —Choice

It is ‘must’ reading for anyone who works in African literature today." —Research in African Literatures

…an indispensable guide to understanding the producers of art in the Mande world, including the art of the spoken word. The writing and arguments are clear and jargon-free…it will provide a rich harvest of detailed original research…" —African Arts

[This] book... is the most impressive effort to look at these groups in comparative perspective. The essays fit together nicely to challenge notions that came out of colonial scholarship." —Journal of Interdisciplinary History

... the volume makes a significant contribution to the social history and ongoing processes of cultural pluralism in West Africa." —Journal of Religion in Africa

The nyamakalaw—blacksmiths, potters, leather-workers, bards, and other artists and specialists among the Mande-speaking peoples of West Africa—play powerful roles in Mande society. This book presents the first full portrait of one of Africa’s most powerful and least understood social groups.

Author Bio

DAVID C. CONRAD is Associate Professor of History at the State University of New York at Oswego. He is editor and cotranslator with Soumaila Diakité of A State of Intrigue: The Epic of Bamana Segu According to Tayiru Banbera. BARBARA E. FRANK is Assistant Professor of Art History at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has worked in Mali and Sierra Leone on Mande leatherworking traditions and with women potters in Mali.

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Table of Contents


Introduction Nyamakalaya
Contradiction and Ambifuity in Mande Society
David C. Conrad and Barbara E. Frank

Part One: The Paradox of Word and Meaning

I. Etymologies of nyamakala
Charles S. Bird, Martha B. Kendall, and Kalilou Tera

II. Power, Structure, and Mande Jeliw
Barbara G. Hoffman

III. The Semantics of jugu
Blacksmiths, Lore, and Who’s Bad in Mande
Patrick R. McNaughton

Part Two: Retracing Steps in Search of Social History

IV. Linguistic Evidence for the History of West african "Castes"
Tal Tamari

V. Blind Man Meets Prophet
Oral Tradition, Islam, and fune Identity
David C. Conrad

VI. Soninke garankew and Bamana-Malinke jeliw
Mande Leatherworkers, Identity, and the Diaspora
Barbara E. Frank

Part Three: The Power of Agency and Identity

VII. The Dieli of Korhogo
Identity and Identification
Robert Launay

VIII. Women Craft Specialists in Jenne
The Manipulation of Mande Social Categories
Adria LaViolette

IX. Jaliya in the Modern World
A Tribute to Banzumana Sissko and Massa Makan Diabate
Cheick Mahamadou Cherif Keita