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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:In defense of Mali's gold: the political and military organization of the Northern Upper Niger, c. 1650 - c. 1850
Author:Jansen, JanISNI
Periodical:Journal of West African History (ISSN 2327-1876)
Geographic term:Mali
Subjects:Mali polity
political history
External link:https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/jwestafrihist.1.1.0001
Abstract:This analysis offers a compelling alternative to the received wisdom that the Mali Empire had dissolved by the end of the seventeenth century. It will be demonstrated that between 1650 and 1850, to the north of the gold fields of the Mali Empire the rulers of Kangaba successfully managed a defense zone. Using military and organizational innovations attributed to polities east of the Niger River (Kong, Segu [Ségou], Kano), they fused the political heritage of the Mali Empire with a system of triads of refuges or fortifications. Throughout the zone, groups of mercenaries of different ethnic origins were assimilated into the Kangaba polity and integrated into the political organization as well as Mali's political ideology. The defense zone protected the gold fields from northern military pressure, in particular from the Bambara Segu kingdom, as well as from small bands of marauders and, later, the armies of El Hadji Umar. By elaborating a regional military-strategic focus that pays close attention to the landscape, and by using the concept of warrior state as a heuristic device, this article mobilizes a variety of hitherto unused archival, architectural, genealogical, and geographical sources. This article does a historiographic reassessment of the dominance of oral traditions as sources for the study of the history of the Mali Empire and the Upper Niger. Notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]