Daily Archives: October 2, 2021

Production and Reproduction of Warrior States: Segu Bambara and Segu Tokolor, c. 1712-1890

Roberts, R. L. (1980). Production and Reproduction of Warrior States: Segu Bambara and Segu Tokolor, c. 1712-1890. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 13(3),

Roberts, R. L. (1980). Production and Reproduction of Warrior States: Segu Bambara and Segu Tokolor, c. 1712-1890. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 13(3), 389–419. https://doi.org/10.2307/218950
The International Journal of African Historical Studies
Vol. 13, No. 3 (1980), pp. 389-419 (31 pages)
Published By: Boston University African Studies Center

https://doi.org/10.2307/218950 https://www.jstor.org/stable/218950

Roberts, R. L. (1980). Production and Reproduction of Warrior States: Segu Bambara and Segu Tokolor, c. 1712-1890. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 13(3), 389–419. https://doi.org/10.2307/218950
The International Journal of African Historical Studies
Vol. 13, No. 3 (1980), pp. 389-419 (31 pages)
Published By: Boston University African Studies Center

https://doi.org/10.2307/218950 https://www.jstor.org/stable/218950

Beyond Timbuktu: An Intellectual History of Muslim West Africa: Ousmane Oumar Kane

Renowned for its madrassas and archives of rare Arabic manuscripts, Timbuktu is famous as a great center of Muslim learning from Islam’s Golden Age. Yet Timbuktu is not unique. It was one among many scholarly centers to exist in precolonial West Africa. Beyond Timbuktu charts the rise of Muslim learning in West Africa from the beginning of Islam to the present day, examining the shifting contexts that have influenced the production and dissemination of Islamic knowledge―and shaped the sometimes conflicting interpretations of Muslim intellectuals―over the course of centuries.

Highlighting the significant breadth and versatility of the Muslim intellectual tradition in sub-Saharan Africa, Ousmane Kane corrects lingering misconceptions in both the West and the Middle East that Africa’s Muslim heritage represents a minor thread in Islam’s larger tapestry. West African Muslims have never been isolated. To the contrary, their connection with Muslims worldwide is robust and longstanding. The Sahara was not an insuperable barrier but a bridge that allowed the Arabo-Berbers of the North to sustain relations with West African Muslims through trade, diplomacy, and intellectual and spiritual exchange.

The West African tradition of Islamic learning has grown in tandem with the spread of Arabic literacy, making Arabic the most widely spoken language in Africa today. In the postcolonial period, dramatic transformations in West African education, together with the rise of media technologies and the ever-evolving public roles of African Muslim intellectuals, continue to spread knowledge of Islam throughout the continent.


Beyond Timbuktu is an insightful analysis of how, through the centuries and from different perspectives, Muslim intellectuals have shaped the production, dissemination, and content of Islamic knowledge in relation to the socio-political contexts in which they lived. As Ousmane Kane demonstrates, this process continues today in the ways the transformation of Muslim educational institutions and availability of new communication technologies make possible a resurgent Muslim public presence. No similar overview of West African Muslim intellectual history exists.”Louis Brenner, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

“A fascinating and comprehensive analysis of the intellectual history of Islamic West Africa. This original book not only fills a gap but also challenges traditional readings of classical texts.”Chouki El Hamel, Arizona State University

“Medieval Timbuktu was a wealthy city whose great libraries allowed it to flourish as a center of learning and scholarship. Kane’s compelling intellectual history of West Africa places Timbuktu within a much broader tradition of Islamic learning in the region, which was home to other medieval knowledge centers and which continues to advance the study of Arabic philology even today. Kane wants to show that West Africa has been much more central to Islam than has been typically understood. His wide-ranging book focuses on the intellectual traditions of the region and its role in the production and circulation of key Arabic-language texts regarding religion, law, and ethics.”Nicolas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs

About the Author

Ousmane Oumar Kane is Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society at Harvard Divinity School and Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harvard University Press (June 7, 2016)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 296 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0674050827
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0674050822
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5 x 1 x 8 inches

The Walking Qur’an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa (Islamic Civilization and Muslim Networks): Rudolph T. Ware

Spanning a thousand years of history–and bringing the story to the present through ethnographic fieldwork in Senegal, Gambia, and Mauritania–Rudolph Ware documents the profound significance of Qur’an schools for West African Muslim communities. Such schools peacefully brought Islam to much of the region, becoming striking symbols of Muslim identity. Ware shows how in Senegambia the schools became powerful channels for African resistance during the eras of the slave trade and colonization. While illuminating the past, Ware also makes signal contributions to understanding contemporary Islam by demonstrating how the schools’ epistemology of embodiment gives expression to classical Islamic frameworks of learning and knowledge.

Today, many Muslims and non-Muslims find West African methods of Qur’an schooling puzzling and controversial. In fascinating detail, Ware introduces these practices from the viewpoint of the practitioners, explicating their emphasis on educating the whole human being as if to remake it as a living replica of the Qur’an. From this perspective, the transference of knowledge in core texts and rituals is literally embodied in people, helping shape them–like the Prophet of Islam–into vital bearers of the word of God.


An excellent and needed contribution to understanding classical Islamic learning methods.–American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

A fascinating new account of the history of taalibes.–Book and Ideas

Outstanding…With [this] publication, Ware has established his reputation as an authority on West African history and Islamic epistemology.–Harvard Divinity Bulletin

Full of bold moves….An important book whose provocative and controversial exploration of the phenomenology and epistemologies of West African Islam…succeeds in reopening the scholarship and public debate about Islam, not only in West Africa but also in the Muslim world.–Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East

A compelling account of Muslim epistemology and a strong contribution to African history.–Journal of Africana Religions


Ware’s treatment of the body and bodily encounters in the transmission of knowledge and construction of authority in Islam is truly path-breaking. This book is a major contribution to African history and Islamic epistemology.–Ousmane Kane, Harvard Divinity School

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ University of North Carolina Press; Illustrated edition (June 16, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1469614316
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1469614311
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.09 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 0.88 x 9.25 inches

The Archaeology of Africa: Food, Metals and Towns (One World Archaeology): Bassey Andah,, Alex Okpoko, Thurstan Shaw, Paul Sinclair

Africa has a vibrant past. It emerges from this book as the proud possessor of a vast and highly complicated interweaving of peoples and cultures, practising an enormous diversity of economic and social strategies in an Extraordinary range of environmental situations.

At long last the archaeology of Africa has revealed enough of Africa’s unwritten past to confound preconceptions about this continent and to upset the picture inferred from historic written records. Without an understanding of its past complexities, it is impossible to grasp Africa’s present, let alone its future.


‘Its immense coverage reveals not just the vibrancy of Africa’s rich and diverse archaeological past, but also demolishes many misconceptions about the continent…this is a classic example of how vision and scholarship can be combined.’New Scientist

‘the existence of the volume is now so important, and carries so many implications, that we must record its availability in as many serious journals as possible’Literary Review

‘it will be a superb source for university students’The Independent

‘This is a competently and painstakingly edited volume, which gives the authentic flavour of the archaeological research carried out in Africa in recent years, and concludes with an eighty-page bibliography which will be of great value to the serious student.’Times Literary Supplement

‘… buy a copy of this important work: you will consult it many times.’ Antiquity

‘simply a majestic book’ Anthropology Today

About the Author

Thurstan Shaw is Emeritus Professor of Archaeology at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Paul Sinclair is Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of Uppsala, Sweden. Bassey Andah is Professor of Archaeology at the University of Ibadan. Alex Okpoko is Senior Research Fellow in Archaeology at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Routledge; 1st edition (March 28, 1995)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 896 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 041511585X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0415115858
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.65 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.25 inches

Senegambia and the Atlantic Slave Trade (African Studies): Boubacar Barry

This authoritative study of 400 years of Senegambian history is unrivaled in its detailed grasp of published and unpublished materials. Taking as his subject the vast area covering the Senegal and Gambia river basins, Boubacar Barry explores the changing dynamics of regional trade, clashes between African and Muslim authorities, the colonial system and the slave trade. This newly-translated book is a vital tool in our understanding of West African history.


“Originally published in French in 1988 by this exile from Guinea living in Senegal, Barry’s account of the `geopolitical dismemberment’ of the west African region that encompasses six contemporary states is encyclopedic in its details of the political history of the communities involved.” R. T. Brown, Choice

“The author sheds more light and gives an extended analysis on the statistical data of the Atlantic slave trade…. …the book will be an important resource for both undergraduate and graduate courses, not only for African history, but also for the Atlantic societies and economies.” Canadian Jrnl of History

“Exhibiting a thorough knowledge of the history of the region, the author narrates the extraordinary complexity and mobility of its population, particularly migrations, and the rise and demise of numerous states and rulers.” Johannes Postma, The Historian

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cambridge University Press (December 13, 1997)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0521597609
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0521597609
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.16 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.98 x 0.96 x 8.98 inches

Senegal Abroad: Linguistic Borders, Racial Formations, and Diasporic Imaginaries ( Africa and the Diaspora: History, Politics, Culture): Maya Angela Smith

Senegal Abroad explores the fascinating role of language in national, transnational, postcolonial, racial, and migrant identities. Capturing the experiences of Senegalese in Paris, Rome, and New York, it depicts how they make sense of who they are―and how they fit into their communities, countries, and the larger global Senegalese diaspora. Drawing on extensive interviews with a wide range of emigrants as well as people of Senegalese heritage, Maya Angela Smith contends that they shape their identity as they purposefully switch between languages and structure their discourse.

The Senegalese are notable, Smith suggests, both in their capacity for movement and in their multifaceted approach to language. She finds that, although the emigrants she interviews express complicated relationships to the multiple languages they speak and the places they inhabit, they also convey pleasure in both travel and language. Offering a mix of poignant, funny, reflexive, introspective, and witty stories, they blur the lines between the utility and pleasure of language, allowing a more nuanced understanding of why and how Senegalese move.


“A groundbreaking interdisciplinary book that breathes fresh air into the study of migration, which has been dominated by economic perspectives. It brings together migration studies, the practice of strategic multilingualism, and racialized identity formation.” ―Cilas Kemedjio, University of Rochester

“The wonderful story told here about the Senegalese diaspora in three cities of different languages is one that will be of interest to all Africanists and postcolonial critics regardless of discipline.” ―Jarrod Hayes, author of Queer Roots for the Diaspora: Ghosts in the Family Tree

“An outstanding work of original scholarship.”—Midwest Book Review

About the Author

Maya Angela Smith is an associate professor of French and Italian studies at the University of Washington.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ University of Wisconsin Press; 1st edition (May 12, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 264 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0299320545
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0299320546
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

Balliol and Empire Project

Balliol and Empire Project

In September 2019 the College launched the Balliol and Empire project, designed to provide a focus for students and Fellows interested in further exploring Balliol’s connections to colonialism. Establishing a series of lectures and events alongside a research programme exploring Balliol’s historical ties to different aspects of British imperialism, the project is helping us re-examine and better understand the College’s complex relationship to empire.


The most recent event to be organised as part of this ongoing project is Balliol Library’s exhibition Slavery in the Age of Revolution, which examines the transatlantic slave trade at the end of the 18th century through the lens of the College’s collections and the scholarship of some of its academic staff. The associated Teaching the Transatlantic Slave Trade Project will bring together 20 teachers from schools in the UK and the USA at four online seminars. A 50-minute video has been produced to coincide with the exhibition and to serve as a discussion tool for the teachers’ project. The video narrates the story of the transatlantic slave trade through interviews with the exhibition’s co-curators alongside some of the exhibits, and includes interviews with the Master and a member of Balliol’s Black and Minority Ethnic Society about what the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and the racial injustices associated with it mean for members of the College today. For more details, see this page.

The first Balliol and Empire event was a symposium to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Mahtama Gandhi. In collaboration with the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development at Somerville College, this symposium was divided into two panel discussions, the latter of which focused on Gandhi’s stay at Balliol during the Round-Table Conference of 1931 as the basis for an evaluation of his broader philosophical and ethical commitments. imageAttended by Her Excellency Ms Ruchi Ghanashyam, the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, and Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of Oxford University (Balliol 1962), this panel discussion was chaired by Dame Helen Ghosh, Master of Balliol, and included contributions from Professor Rajeev Bhargava, former director of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and Honorary Fellow of Balliol; Professor Judith Brown, Emeritus Fellow of Balliol and former Beit Professor of Commonwealth History; and Professor Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History and Fellow of St Antony’s College.

Three lectures have addressed different aspects of recent contestations, from statues and memorials to the curriculum. In ‘What Do We Mean When We Talk about Statues’ Rahul Rao (2001), Senior Lecturer in Politics at SOAS (right), considered why statues are invested with so much significance. In the second talk, Marisa J. Fuentes (Associate Professor in History at Rutgers University and Oliver Smithies Visiting Fellow 2019/2020) focused on the politics of statues and memorials representing slavery and the legacy of white supremacy in the United States and the recent momentum of historicising these legacies at American Universities in general. In the third, Professor Robbie Shilliam (Hedley Bull Junior Research Fellow in International Relations at Oxford 2005– 2007), of Johns Hopkins University, gave the 2021 Omar Azfar Lecture, ‘Decolonizing Politics’, based on his book of that name (Polity, 2021), which he wrote to help undergraduates to think critically and more precisely about current day controversies over decolonizing the academy.

In 2019 Balliol commissioned a study in order to establish the extent to which Balliol’s endowment includes funds that could be linked to the proceeds of slavery. The study was researched and written by Dr Sebastian Raj Pender (Research Associate on the Balliol and Empire Project) and it has been peer reviewed by experts at the University of London.

The study researched the College’s archival records of benefactions received between 1600 and 1919 together with a range of other historical sources. It found that, of 379 benefactors who each gave the College more than £1,000 in total when adjusted for today’s prices, 39 were made by individuals with substantive links to the proceeds of slavery, whether directly or via inheritance. Taken together, these 39 benefactors contributed a total of around £300,000 when adjusted for today’s prices, or about £2m when adjusted for today’s average incomes; the higher figure would represent about 1.6 per cent of the College’s endowment. The Proceeds of Slavery study is available to read here. [PDF]

The work will be followed by further research into Balliol’s connections with empire, as well as other events exploring the broader legacy of British colonialism. Over the course of Michaelmas Term 2021, the College will continue its discussions on how to engage with the finding of the report.
More about Balliol and empire

When people first think about Balliol’s connections with empire, it is usual to focus on the hundreds of men educated by the College who went on to help administer various parts of the British Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries. Significant as this contribution to Britain’s imperial project was, closer examination of the subject suggests a more complicated and multifaceted relationship. As ongoing research is helping to clarify, Balliol also played some role in the process of decolonisation and anti-colonial struggles in the Global South. Balliol continues to be prominent in academic research on colonialism and responses to the historical injustice of the later 20th and early 21st centuries. The part played by its Fellows and students in re-examining what a more strongly global and post-Western world means for the curricula and teaching at Oxford, as well as in the academy as a whole, is also relevant.

To read more about all these aspects of Balliol and empire, please see the menu below.

Balliol and Empire Project

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