Archive for July 27th, 2011



Outsiders, incomers and migrants feature heavily in the oral and written historical record for West Africa. There is, for instance, a whole tradition of rulers coming from afar (‘stranger-kings’ in the words of Marshall Sahlins who looked at this in a wider context), with power-sharing arrangements set up between autochthonous and incoming peoples. Such is the case for example for the rulers of the Hausa, the Songhay, or Borgou. That is all very intriguing in its own right, and I think interpreting such traditions as the consequence of Islamisation, and as efforts at ‘genealogical parasitism’, might be oversimplifying the story.  I gave a talk about this at SOAS last year. Then and since then, I have been wondering (in a chapter I am currently writing for a book for OUP) how it fits in with the anthropologists’ notion of rights-in-persons. Today I am (in theory at least) finishing piecing all of this together.


About this blog

This blog has been set up to chart the activities and research findings of two projects led by Anne Haour, an archaeologist from the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom.

The first project, called Crossroads, brings together a team of archaeologists, historians and anthropologists studying the Niger Valley where it borders Niger and Bénin (West Africa). We are hoping to shed more light on the people that inhabited the area in the past 1500 years and to understand how population movements and craft techniques shaped the area's past.

The second project, called Cowries, examines the money cowrie, a shell which served as currency, ritual object and ornament across the world for millennia, and in medieval times most especially in the Maldive Islands of the Indian Ocean and the Sahelian regions of West Africa. We hope to understand how this shell was sourced and used in those two areas.

These investigations are funded by the European Research Council as part of the Starting Independent Researcher Programme (Seventh Framework Programme – FP7) and by the Leverhulme Trust as a Research Project Grant. The opinions posted here are however Anne Haour's own!

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July 2011
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