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The Younger Brother and the Stranger : In Search of a Status Discourse for Mande

Authors
Journal
Cahiers d’études africaines
0008-0055
Publisher
PERSEE Program
Publication Date
Volume
36
Issue
144
Identifiers
DOI: 10.3406/cea.1996.1861
Disciplines
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science

Abstract

Abstract This article examines different categories of expression (genealogies, family histories, themes from the Sunjata epic, principles of segmentation, labour division) in Mande, and proves that they ail develop along lines of predictability, and are therefore products of the same discourse, lt is argued that genealogies are artificial kinship constructions which represent status daims. Any genealogy in Mande is operative only in a specifie context, as an argument in a struggle for interpretation, and thus the usual positivist, chronological interpretation of genealogies is contested. The relationship oldest/youngest in particular serves to express unity and tension in diplomatie relations between social groups, and relationship has been articulated politically in a functional way in relation to other oppositions such as mobile/immobile, interior/exterior. This status discourse is illustrated by the discussion on the position of the rulers of Kangaba, the alleged ancient capital of the Mali empire.

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