Voices of their own?
African participation in the production of colonial knowledge in French West Africa, 1910–1950
in Ordering Africa
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African ethnography had a range of 'different lives' that need to be interrogated carefully. This chapter examines the unequal organization of scholarly labour in French-speaking Africa. The administrator ethnographers, however, believed Africans' writings were only useful in terms of the collection of raw data. The promotion of research in general and of indigenous writing in particular, was once again encouraged by the colonial administration. The creation in 1936 of the Institut Francais d'Afrique Noire (IFAN), to replace the old Committee for Historical and Scientific Studies of French West Africa, also served this policy. When, in 1932, schoolmaster Mamby Sidibe embarked on his Collection of local customs of the Kita District, it was his intention to make it 'the new administrator's bedside book'. Like his colleagues Fily Dabo Sissoko, Mamby Sidibe and Bouillagui Fadiga, Oumar Berte undertook historical and ethnographic research and produced different written documents.

Ordering Africa

Anthropology, European imperialism, and the politics of knowledge

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