“Historical Constructions of “Race” and Social Hierarchy in Muslim West and North Africa”
10-12 December 2008
Final Call for Papers:
The various systems of social hierarchy that have existed historically in Muslim West and North Africa have generated a distinct set of ideological justifications for inequality. The meanings ascribed to positions of social inferiority, including that of slaves, or to wider issues of difference more broadly, appear at times to be “racial” in nature. Ideas of social hierarchy and “racial” difference were often developed within a larger Muslim semantic framework. The region’s history of European colonial conquest has also shaped these concepts. In order to generate discussion of these understudied topics, the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA), the Harriet Tubman Institute and the Pôle d’Excellence Régional sur les Esclavages et les Traites, Université Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD), invite paper proposals for a workshop on historical constructions of “race” and social hierarchy in Muslim West and North Africa.
Papers should focus on a specific historical and geographic context and use specific and concrete primary sources to explore the relationship between at least two of the following three themes:
1) “race” (notions and practices that invoke innate human difference in some way);
2) social hierarchy (slavery, servility, dependence, clientage, “caste”);
3) religion (Islam).
Possible paper topics include, but are NOT limited to, the following:
1) the ways in which West and North Africans have historically defined social inferiority (servility, “caste,” slavery) in terms of “racial” difference;
2) the historical meanings of such color-coded binary terms in local languages such as bidan/sudan, wodeebe/baleebe, or korey/bibi;
3) Muslim scholarly discourse about racial or ethnic difference;
4) Muslim scholarly discourse about slavery and/or emancipation;
5) the religious experiences of Muslim slaves;
6) the racial or ethnic identities of slaves and former slaves and/or masters and former masters.
Papers should address these themes in the context of a defined case study. They should be based on original research focused on specific and concrete primary sources from the region. These sources may be oral or written; they may be in African (including Arabic) or European languages. Selected participants will be asked to provide both papers (in French or English) and selected primary source material (with translation or synopsis in French or English), so that they can be circulated to all participants before the workshop.
The workshop will be held in Dakar, Senegal, between 10-12 December 2008. The goal of the meeting is to create linkages and generate discussion among researchers (particularly African researchers) with interests in these neglected topics. The sponsors will also work to publish an edited volume or a special journal issue based on the proceedings of the conference.
Paper proposals must be submitted by September 22, 2008 to be considered. They should be sent as Microsoft Word email attachments to the conference organizers, Bruce Hall (email@example.com), Jeremy Berndt (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yacine Daddi Addoun (email@example.com).
Department of History
fax. 919-681-7670 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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