Griots and Griottes

Griots and Griottes

Masters of Words and Music
Thomas A. Hale
Distribution: World
Publication date: 07/31/2007
Format: Paperback 20 b&w photos, 7 maps
ISBN: 978-0-253-21961-9
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Description

On May 17, 1967, the American writer Alex Haley went to Juffure, a village in The Gambia on what was once the western fringe of the Mali empire. There he met a griot, or jali, who recounted a story about Haley’s roots in Africa. Haley was trying to reconstruct his past, an African heritage which had been nearly erased by the slave trade and the experience of his African-American ancestors as slaves. Haley used some of this information to write Roots, which appeared in 1976 and led to an explosion of interest in geneology in the United States and other parts of the world. The television version of the story drew the largest single audience in the history of American television. Roots II, a sequel showed how Haley went about the research for the book, and many viewers saw a Mandinka jali, or griot, for the first time, the late Alhaji Bai Konte, playing the role of the man who told Haley the story about Kunta Kinte.

Roots introduced griots to the world outside of West Africa and generated an enormous amount of interest in their profession. Griots and Griottes is the first comprehensive portrait of the world of this profession, starting with their discovery by the outside world in 1352 by a North African traveler, Ibn Battuta, up to the time of Alex Haley and the present. Griots in their multiple roles and functions are unique to Africa. They play many roles in society—geneologist, historian, spokesperson, diplomat, musician, teacher, warrior, praise singer, master of ceremonies, and advisor. Griots and Griottes, based on over thirty years of research and travel in Africa, tells the story of these remarkable wordsmiths and performers.

Author Bio

Thomas A. Hale is Professor of African, French, and Comparative Literature at Pennsylvania State University. His publications include an edition and translation, The Epic of Askia Mohammed (Indiana University Press, 1996).

Reviews

“The well-illustrated Griots and Griottes is the first comprehensive portrait of the world of this profession, starting with its discovery by the outside world in 1352 by a North African traveler up to the present. Based on over 30 years of research and travel in Africa, Griots and Griottes tells the story of these remarkable wordsmiths and performers.”

“" . . . insightful new contributions to the study of griots and griottes." —African Studies Quarterly " . . . an indispensable starting point for research on griots and griottes." —International Journal of African Historical Studies " . . . filled with interesting and eye-opening information." —Dirty Linen "A wonderful book, this one." —Victory Music Review Alex Haley, author of the phenomenal best-seller Roots, reconstructed his family’s past with the aid of a griot, an African oral historian/musician/diplomat/advisor (among many other roles). The well-illustrated Griots and Griottes is the first comprehensive portrait of the world of this profession, starting with its discovery by the outside world in 1352 by a North African traveler up to the present. Based on over 30 years of research and travel in Africa, Griots and Griottes tells the story of these remarkable wordsmiths and performers.”

“Thomas A. Hale's clearly written, informative work is a comprehensive historical and contemporary account of the griot phenomenon, which originated in West Africa. ...It is, in its entirety, of benefit to a variety of researchers from fields as diverse as history, music, anthropology and sociology, linguistics and literature.Volume 11.2 & 3, Spring 2010”
 — African Studies Quarterly

“Hale . . . provides here an encyclopedic introduction to and overview of this ubiquitous and important West African figure. . . . a valuable addition to the literature on both African societies and the African Diaspora. Upper-division undergraduates and above.October 1999”
 — Choice

“Thomas A. Hale's clearly written, informative work is a comprehensive historical and contemporary account of the griot phenomenon, which originated in West Africa. ...It is, in its entirety, of benefit to a variety of researchers from fields as diverse as history, music, anthropology and sociology, linguistics and literature.Vol. 11.2-3 Spring 2010”
 — Karen Ferreira-Meyers, University of Swaziland

“[An] encyclopedic introduction to and overview of this ubiquitous and important West African figure . . . . [A] valuable addition to the literature on both African societies and the African Diaspora.”
 — Choice

“[Reveals] griots to be much more complex and multifaceted social agents than previously understood.”
 — African Arts

“[Puts] the study of West African oral tradition on a higher level.”
 — International Journal of African Historical Studies

“Hale's magnum opus is an invaluable reference for scholars in religious studies, history, music, anthropology, linguistics, and literature.”
 — Religious Studies Review

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Chapter 1, A Job Description for Griots
Chapter 2, The Origin of Griots
Chapter 3, The Verbal Art of Griots
Chapter 4, Music Across the Griot World
Chapter 5, The Making of a Griot
Chapter 6, Would You Want Your Daughter to Marry One?
Chapter 7, Griottes: Unrecognized Female Voices
Chapter 8, From the Courtyards of the Nobility to a Global Audience
Chapter 9, The Value of Words
Chapter 10, New Millenium Griots
Appendices
References
Index

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