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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:History and Legitimacy: Aspects of the Use of the Past in Precolonial Dahomey
Author:Law, Robin R.ISNI
Periodical:History in Africa
Geographic term:Benin
Subjects:Dahomey polity
historical sources
History and Exploration
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/3171874
Abstract:The modern historiography of the kingdom of Dahomey (or Fon), Benin, although it has made considerable use of the abundant contemporary European documentation which is available, has also been profoundly influenced by the interpretations of Dahomey's history offered in its own traditions. Equally, Dahomian ideas about the legitimacy of political authority have depended to a great degree on particular assumptions and assertions about the nature of the kingdom's history. The focus of this paper is on the version of Dahomian traditional history recorded by the French colonial officer Le Herissť. This version, which was published in 1911, is in fact merely a translation of the account given to Le Herissť by a single Dahomian informant, Agbidinukun, the 'chef de canton' of the 'cercle' of Abomey under French colonial rule and a brother of the last independent king of Dahomey. The paper proceeds partly by internal analysis of Agbidinukun's account, but also by comparison with contemporary European sources. Special attention is paid to the ways in which the traditions have changed over time. Notes, ref.