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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Marabout republics then and now: configuring Muslim towns in Senegal
Author:Ross, Eric S.
Periodical:Islam et sociétés au Sud du Sahara
Geographic term:Senegal
urban planning
urban history
Abstract:This article argues that in Touba, and a number of other Muslim towns in Senegal, there is an indigenous tradition of urban planning, and that this tradition is still relevant to citybuilding today. Both the 'marabout republics' of precolonial Senegambia and the modern Sufi towns share four important traits: they serve primarily religious functions; they thrive on an agrarian economic basis, exploiting cheap student labour; they share a distinctive spatial configuration; and they have achieved and maintained a strong measure of administrative autonomy. In the late 19th and early 20th century, when Sufi sheikhs set about establishing new towns and villages, a distinct Western Sudanic and Senegambian urban design already existed. The author suggests that the filiation between the early Jakhanke (an order of Muslim clerics originating from Diakha, Masina) towns and the subsequent Sufi ones can be verified through the continuity in toponymy and through analysis of spatial configuration. The layout of precolonial Senegambian royal capitals was possibly an important model for both the Jakhanke towns and the subsequent Sufi establishments. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]