Animating the Archive: The trial and testimony of a Sufi saint

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In 1895 the colonial administration of Senegal sentenced Sheikh Amadu Bamba to exile for stirring anti-colonial disobedience. At his trial, Bamba allegedly recited a prayer in defiance of the French authorities. Although there is no archival record to prove that the prayer was recited, since the 1970s Bamba's disciples have flocked to the former seat of colonial power to commemorate his act of resistance; their testimony has displaced the authority of the colonial archive and imagines a decolonial utopia in archival absence. This article examines how their prayer subverts the colonial archive, while it remains entangled in its substrate.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-51
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Anthropology
Issue number1
Early online date17 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


    Research areas

  • Senegal, archive, testimony, prayer, decolonial utopia

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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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