The use of slaves in precolonial western Dar Fur: the case of Dar Masalit, 1870-1905
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The present essay is written from the premise that African slavery - like African Islam and African women cannot be studied and understood in isolation from the political economy of the society in which it exists. For the organization of this essay, this means that a short characterization of Masalit society (and the changes it underwent between 1870 and 1905) will precede the analysis of the use of slaves in Dar Masalit. It also implies that the model of slavery presented here may be to a large extent valid for the sultanates of Wadai and Dar Fur, if one excludes the enclaves inhabited by foreign long-distance traders whose position and activities were in many ways unique.3 This paper is based largely on oral sources collected in the Western Sudan and Khartoum between 1978 and 1981.4 These sources include little data obtained from people who have been slaves themselves - a major limitation which the reader should bear in mind. However, while the analysis presented here is provisional, it is the first of its kind in the field of Sudanese history and may therefore form a valuable point of departure for future research.
African Studies Center Working Paper No. 92
RightsCopyright © 1984, by the author.