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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Colonialism from the middle: African clerks as historical actors and discursive subjects
Author:Austen, Ralph A.ISNI
Periodical:History in Africa (ISSN 1558-2744)
Geographic term:Mali
Subjects:colonial administrators
colonial history
historical sources
About person:Amadou Hampaté Bâ (1900-1991)ISNI
External link:http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/history_in_africa/v038/38.1.austen.pdf
Abstract:African clerks do deserve greater examination than they have received so far in the historiography of colonial Africa. However, if they do prefigure the political leadership of postcolonial Africa, it is less in the heroic and innovative mode of 'nation-building' than in the more problematic and continuous role of 'gate-keepers', or 'brokers' (honest or not) between subject populations and external sources of power/patronage. The focus of the present paper is on two figures who are of both historical and literary significance: Amadou Hampâté Bâ (1900-1991), the renowned Malian writer and scholar who produced a memoir about his early career as a colonial clerk; and 'Wangrin', a clerk and interpreter of an earlier generation, who is the subject of Hampâté Bâ's most widely read book. The paper examines the documentation on colonial clerks-interpreters, both archival and 'literary' (including photographic and cinematic representations), presently available. Bibliogr., notes, ref. [ASC Leiden abstract]