14 Chapters
Medium 9780253001245

1. Situations Both Alike?: Connectivity, the Mediterranean, the Sahara

Edited by James McDougall and Judith Sch Indiana University Press ePub

1

Peregrine Horden

I tell you, captain, if you look in the maps of the ’orld, I warrant you sall find, in the comparisons, between Macedon and Monmouth, that the situations, look you, is both alike. There is a river in Macedon, and there is also moreover a river at Monmouth: it is called Wye at Monmouth; but it is out of my prains what is the name of the other river; but ’tis all one, ’tis so like as my fingers is to my fingers, and there is salmons in both. —SHAKESPEARE, HENRY V

Fluellen showed the way. With ingenious selectivity, almost anything—certainly any piece of geography—can be made to seem similar enough to anything else to be classified under the same broad heading. Comparison of the two then becomes a plausible exercise.1

The attraction of comparing the Mediterranean and the Sahara derives of course not only from the applicability of nautical similes (camels as ships of the desert, oases as islands) but from the proximity of the two regions. Along with Northern Europe, the Middle East, and, from early modern times onward, the Atlantic, the Sahara is one of the big adjacent geographical expressions with which the Mediterranean historian must engage, at least since the long third millennium BCE, possibly since 120,000 years ago.2

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7. Villages and Crossroads: Changing Territorialities among the Tuareg of Northern Mali

Edited by James McDougall and Judith Sch Indiana University Press ePub

7

Charles Grémont

Let us begin with a historical observation: at the end of the nineteenth century, territorial control as exerted by the various dominant Tuareg groups in the area of what is today the north of the Republic of Mali was flexible, based on alliances with, and control over, people who were relatively mobile. Today, Tuareg livelihoods and political influence, like those of their neighbors, are increasingly defined with reference to geographical limits, while the control over specific locations and areas has become both the object of power struggles and a way of expressing them. My aim here is to show why local concepts of power have changed so drastically, under which circumstances this happened, and with what kinds of resistance these changes were met—resistances that bear witness to the profound impact of these transformations, but that also question the validity of the territorial model imposed by the colonial state and endorsed by the national state after independence.

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3. Saharan Trade in Classical Antiquity

Edited by James McDougall and Judith Sch Indiana University Press ePub

3

Katia Schörle

In classical antiquity, the Sahara (whether called deserta or solitudines Africae in Latin, or eremoi in Greek; Desanges 1999a: 239) was constructed by Greek and Roman writers alike as a place of distinctive otherness. Exotic, empty, wild, or peopled by bizarre creatures, it served to represent the antithesis of the known civilized world (Liverani 2000a: 498; J. McDougall this volume). Yet, much like the classical Mediterranean as described by Horden and Purcell in The Corrupting Sea (2000), the Sahara is perhaps best imagined as constituted by shifting interactions, related microcosms, and overlapping networks than by rigid patterns: a network of hubs, central nodes around which activities revolved and which were involved in multidirectional exchange (Wilson 2009). Settled at the edges of the Sahara or in oases—islands in the Saharan sea—Saharan populations relied and throve on interactions with their neighbors (Crawley Quinn 2009). This chapter’s main emphasis is on the Libyan Sahara between the sixth century BC and the sixth century AD, a period that corresponds to the rise and fall of the Garamantian civilization and roughly to the classical Greek and Roman period in the Mediterranean.1 The Garamantian kingdom (ca. 500 BC–AD 650), whose territories were centered on the oasis belts in the Fezzan region in southwestern Libya, communicated with both North Africa and sub-Saharan regions. The Fezzan is one of the few areas in the Sahara to have received much archaeological attention, and findings strongly suggest that it constituted a powerful center of trading activity within the Sahara (Mattingly 2003, 2007, 2010). Although there has been some past debate over the exact nature of these long-distance trading networks (see, for instance, Law 1967; Swanson 1975), more recent archaeological work in the Fezzan by both Italian and British teams dispels any doubt about their existence (Mattingly 2003, 2007, 2010; Liverani 2005). Goods from the Mediterranean or (to a lesser extent) from sub-Saharan Africa are found in burial sites associated with Garamantian settlements. These trading activities across various parts of the Sahara varied over time and space, both in the intensity of exchange and in the routes taken, showing a pattern that is much more varied and flexible than we might expect.

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11. Cultural Interaction and the Artisanal Economy in Tamanrasset

Edited by James McDougall and Judith Sch Indiana University Press ePub

11

Dida Badi

This chapter investigates cultural interactions between the Sahara and its Sahelian borderlands, based on an analysis of skills and techniques shared by craftsmen who supply the markets of Tamanrasset and, to a lesser degree, Djanet and Illizi.1 Since the 1970s, these towns, situated in the extreme south of the Algerian Sahara, have become privileged sites of interaction and exchange between local people and more or less temporary migrants. This has resulted in the revival of traditional sets of knowledge and skills that have long been shared by both, and that are today skillfully adapted to a changing social and economic context. In this analysis, I will use two key notions: “revivals” and “transformations.” A “revival” indicates the use of traditional knowledge and skills in a modern context, while a “transformation” shows the dynamic nature of this use. Modern Sahelian industries found in southern Algeria today largely draw on a common cultural patrimony shared between the Sahara and the Sahel, one that, far from being immutable and outmoded, proves to be highly adaptable and to have an important part to play in local economic development and the regional integration of Tamanrasset.

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10. Living Together and Living Apart in Nouakchott

Edited by James McDougall and Judith Sch Indiana University Press ePub

10

Laurence Marfaing

As a result of long-standing habits of mobility throughout West Africa, but also, and especially since 2006, due to EU policies aiming to stop African migration to Europe, the number of West African migrants who live on a more or less temporary basis in Mauritania is currently estimated at 65,000, which is 2.5 percent of the total population of 2.7 million inhabitants.1 A government survey carried out in 2007 shows that 60 percent of all foreign nationals in Mauritania have lived there since 2000, without, however, differentiating between their various migratory projects (République Islamique de Mauritanie [hereafter, RIM] 2007: 14). Most of these foreign residents are from neighboring countries, such as Senegal (60 percent) and Mali (30 percent). The remaining 10 percent are from other sub-Saharan countries, Asia, and the Maghreb (Marfaing 2009a). The majority live in cities: Nouakchott, the capital; Nouadhibou, an important harbor and industrial center; and Rosso, on the border between Senegal and Mauritania on the Senegal River. According to government statistics, the foreign residents account for 4.5 percent of the total population of these cities, and mostly live in districts primarily inhabited by black Mauritanians or nationals of neighboring countries, where they settle following community boundaries (RIM 2007: 11–12). Whole sections of these cities have become “intermediary spaces” both for migrants who ultimately aim to reach Europe and for those who are mainly looking for employment in Mauritania.2 Moreover, for both categories, these areas of transit often turn into places of more permanent residence.

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