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Islamization as Epic Tale in Mali: the Verbal Arts of Contemporary Bard, Almamy Bah

  • Francesco Zappa
Thursday 8 December 2016
WHAT's NEW?! Fall Lecture Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden
Lipsius 003

Islamization as Epic Tale in Mali: the Verbal Arts of Contemporary Bard, Almamy Bah

In this lecture, I will discuss and analyze the verbal arts of Almamy Bah, a celebrated, contemporary Malian bard whose highly mediatized repertoire centers on Islamic hagiographic themes. Through the close analysis of some of his works recorded on audiocassette and CDs, I will show how the bard raises the history of recent processes of Islamization in Mali to the timeless, almost mythic level of epic tales. Although there has been extensive research about bards and griots in particular in West Africa, this work looks at those heretofore little-studied bards who specialize in conveying information about Islam through verbal arts of performance. It will be of interest to those working in Islamic studies, oral literatures, African languages and literature, the history of Islamization, the history and anthropology of West Africa, the intersection of religion and media, and media and performance studies more generally.

About Francesco Zappa

Francesco Zappa is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Sapienza University of Rome. From 2011 to 2016, he worked as maître de conferences at Aix-Marseille University in France, where he also served as deputy director of the Department of Middle Eastern Studies. He is still a member of Institut de Recherche et d’Etudes sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman, a multidisciplinary research laboratory based in Aix-en-Provence. His research approach bridge “classical” Islamic studies, Anthropology, African Languages Studies, Oral Literatures and Literacy Studies, focusing on Islam in West Africa and, more specifically, on the uses of Bambara (Bamanankan) as a language of Islam in Mali. He has carried out fieldwork in Mali since 2000 and contributed journal articles, a journal supplement and book chapters to edited volumes and peer-reviewed academic journals, including Die Welt des Islams, Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions and Rivista degli Studi Orientali.

This WHAT's NEW?! lecture is followed by drinks in cafe de Grote Beer (Rembrandtstraat 27).

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