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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'The Proof is on My Palm': Debating Ethnicity, Islam and Ritual in a New African Diaspora
Author:Johnson, Michelle C.
Periodical:Journal of Religion in Africa
Geographic terms:Guinea-Bissau
Subjects:ethnic identity
rites of passage
Islamic culture
Religion and Witchcraft
Ethnic and Race Relations
Peoples of Africa (Ethnic Groups)
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/27594363.pdf
Abstract:For Mandinga in Guinea-Bissau and Portugal, life-course rituals are currently provoking transnational debates on ethnic and religious identity. In Guinea-Bissau, these two identities are thought to be one and the same - to be Mandinga is to 'naturally' be Muslim. For Mandinga immigrants in Portugal, however, the experience of transnationalism and the allure of 'global Islam' have thrust this long-held notion into debate. The author explores the contours and consequences of this debate by focusing on the 'writing-on-the-hand' ritual, which initiates Mandinga children into Koranic study. Whereas some Mandinga immigrants in Portugal view the writing-on-the-hand ritual as essential for conferring both Muslim identity and 'Mandinga-ness', others feel that this Mandinga 'custom' should be abandoned for a more orthodox version of Islam. Case studies reveal an internal debate about Mandinga ethnicity, Islam and ritual, one that transcends the common 'traditionalist'/'modernist' distinction. The author suggests that the internal debate, although intensified by migration, is not itself a consequence of 'modernity' but has long been central to how Mandinga imagine themselves as both members of a distinct ethnic group and as practitioners of the world religion of Islam. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [ASC Leiden abstract]