Africa

A scholarly journal devoted to the study of African societies and cultures. Editorial emphasis is placed on an interdisciplinary approach to African studies by the inclusion of topics in social sciences, history, the environment, and life sciences. Each i

Articles from Vol. 79, No. 1, Winter

Beyond Expertise: Reflections on Specialist Agency and the Autonomy of the Divinatory Ritual Process
ABSTRACT Recent anthropological studies of divination have been marked by renewed and appreciative concern for the epistemological and performative dimensions of divination. Pursuing these recent investigations, and especially their interest in...
Elders and 'Frauds': Commodified Expertise and Politicized Authenticity among Mijikenda
ABSTRACT Among Mijikenda of the Kenya coast, the male Kaya elders (azhere a Kaya)--custodians of sacred spaces and customary knowledge--traditionally undergo years of secretive ritual training and tribulation in order to accrue both expertise and...
Framing Divination: A Mande Divination Expert and the Occult Economy
ABSTRACT This essay describes the skills of a sand divination expert in Mali through consideration of his expert performance. By relating the description of the expert to Goffman's sociology, it is argued that, in addition to his skilled divination...
Introduction: Knowledge in Practice
To demarginalize Africa and the Third World with regard to knowledge as well as in all other respects, to ensure ... that the margin be no longer margin but part and parcel of a multi-faceted whole, a centre of decision among other centres of decision,...
Knowledge and Intellectual Practice in a Swahili Context: 'Wisdom' and the Social Dimensions of Knowledge
ABSTRACT This article investigates 'wisdom' from an ethnographic perspective that pays attention to the ways in which knowledge is performed, appreciated, negotiated and questioned in everyday life in Mombasa, on the Swahili coast. It discusses...
Marabout Women in Dakar: Creating Authority in Islamic Knowledge
ABSTRACT In studies concerning Islam and gender in West Africa, the expertise of women in Islamic esoteric practices is often overlooked. These practices, that include divination, dream interpretation and prayer sessions, are central in politics,...
Negotiating Licence and Limits: Expertise and Innovation in Djenne's Building Trade
ABSTRACT During a mason's apprenticeship in Djenne, the young man acquires not only technical skills, but also appropriate social knowledge and a bodily comportment. Together, these inform his professional performance as a craftsman. Recognized...
Specialist Knowledge Practices of Craftsmen and Clerics in Senegal
ABSTRACT This article examines the specialized knowledge practices of two sets of culturally recognized 'experts' in Senegal: Islamic clerics and craftsmen. Their respective bodies of knowledge are often regarded as being in opposition, and in some...
The Transmission of Knowledge in South African Traditional Healing
ABSTRACT 'Traditional healers' (sangomas) in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, are organized into 'schools' around a senior teacher (gobela). Healing is understood by its practioners to be a profession, not a religion or even a spiritual exercise....