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The Tārikh al-Fattash and the Making of an Islamic State in West Africa

Event Type
Center for Advanced Study
Levis Faculty Center, Room 210
Oct 20, 2021   12:00 - 12:45 pm  
Professor Mauro Nobili
Originating Calendar
History Department

This paper explores the intertwined histories of a West African Arabic chronicle, the Tārīkh al-fattāsh and its role in establishing the legitimation of the 9th-century Caliphate of Ḥamdallāhi, located in today’s Republic of Mali. Previously understood to be a 16th- or 17th-century work, Professor Nobili will prove that the Tārīkh al-fattāsh was in fact written in the 19th century. In doing so, this paper will raise crucial issues concerning religion and politics in pre-colonial West Africa, as well as the use of literacy as a tool of state power.

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