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Title:Mapping the River in Black and White: Trajectories of Race in the Niger Bend, Northern Mali
Author(s):Hall, Bruce S.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Stewart, Charles C.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, African
Abstract:This dissertation explores how local ideas about racial difference developed in the Niger Bend region of Northern Mali in West Africa. Local prejudices based on skin color and physical characteristics existed in Northern Mali long before the arrival of Europeans. Local intellectuals writing in Arabic had, for centuries, articulated ideas about "race" in pre-colonial times, distinguishing, at the most basic level, between "Whites" (bid&dotbelow;an¯ ), for those with Arab pedigrees, and "Blacks" (sudan ). During the period of French colonial rule (1894-1960), racial discourses became central to indigenous self-representations, contributing to important social changes in the ways that local people interacted with each other. The French implemented policies that they believed were consistent with local practice and which privileged their local "White," mostly Arab and Tuareg, allies. These local elites became very adept at using racial discourses in their relations with the colonial administration, playing upon French prejudices that predisposed them to accept the idea of "White" Arab and Tuareg superiority over "Blacks." The privileges won by indigenous "White" elites allowed them to maintain and expand their control over servile labor and much of the fertile land along the floodplain of the Niger River. Over the course of the colonial occupation, indigenous leaders and intellectuals imbued older local notions of racial difference with European ideas picked up in their dealings with the French. Increasingly, local conflicts over such matters as access to fertile floodplain land took on larger racial overtones, reaching a climax after World War II when the process of decolonization began.
Issue Date:2005
Description:284 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2005.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3199010
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2005

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