Status and Identity in West Africa
Status and Identity in West Africa: Nyamakalaw of Mande Indiana
University Press 1995
An edited collection, with Barbara Frank, of studies about the nyamakalaw, a professional class of artists and other occupationally defined specialists among the Mande-speaking peoples of West Africa. Nyamakalaw (blacksmiths, potters, leatherworkers, and bards) play powerful roles in Mande society, yet they remain its most misunderstood social group. In an effort to distinguish the misconceptions of outsiders from the ambiguity of the social reality, this book critiques Western perceptions of nyamakalaw that led to the colonial construction of the Mande “caste” system. From a wide variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, the contributors explore the dynamic status and identity of the nyamakalaw, the history of this phenomenon in various Mande contexts, and the role of individuals in its development in time and space.
Contributors are Charles S. Bird, David C. Conrad, Barbara E. Frank, Barbara G. Hoffman, Cheick Mahamadou Chérif Keita, Martha B. Kendall, Robert Launay, Adria La Violette, Patrick R. McNaughton, Tal Tamari, and Kalilou Tera.