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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:'We're the sauce on top of the rice': a case study on 'finoo' negotiation of Muslim identity in The Gambia
Author:Janson, MarloesISNI
Periodical:Mande Studies
Geographic term:Gambia
social status
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/44080580
Abstract:'Finoos' or Islamic bards, are often classified in Mande studies as a subcategory of 'jalis' or griots. Although both are bards and occasionally perform together, they see themselves as separate status categories, each with their own activities. In contrast to 'jalis', the 'finoo' realm of expertise focuses on religion. As a result of their Islamic knowledge, 'finoos' generally consider themselves a step above 'jalis' on the social ladder ('the sauce on top of the rice'). However, because 'finoos' may ask them for gifts, 'jalis' often rank their religious counterparts lower in the social hierarchy. 'Finoos' operate within a field of tension between the traditional system of status categories marking social stratification and a reformist Islam, now gaining influence in contemporary Gambia, which does not recognize hereditary social distinctions. As such, 'finoos' are faced with the challenge of sorting out the relationship between Islam as a global entity and multiple local Islamic beliefs and practices. In order to answer the question as to how 'finoos' disentangle themselves from the ambiguous position in which they operate, the author explores how they relate their activities to Islam and (re)negotiate their Muslim identity in everyday life. For this purpose, she takes the life history of Kalilu Fatty, a middle-aged Gambian 'finoo', as point of departure. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]