The Griot’s Craft

ab 10,90 

Jan Jansen

An Essay on Oral Tradition and Diplomacy

ISBN 978-3-8258-4352-1
Band-Nr. 8
Jahr 2000
Seiten 120
Bindung broschiert
Reihe Forschungen zu Sprachen und Kulturen Afrikas

Artikelnummer: 978-3-8258-4352-1 Kategorien: ,


Griots, the West African traditional bards, have attracted scholarly
attention for decades because of their apparently infinite knowledge of
history and their positions as social mediators. Academic research has thus
focused on their verbal skills, their memory, their music and the meaning
of their texts. Their diplomatic skills as mediators, however, have never
been the object of systematic analysis. This book aims to fill that lacuna
by examining how griots deal with both social relationships and the
transfer of knowledge, thus illustrating why griots play such an important
role in Mande societies. Griots are more than mere `storytellers‘ or
`entertainers‘. The subtle art of diplomatic mediation is integral to their
Jan Jansen elaborates his ideas on the basis of observations made during
two years of research conducted among the prestigious bards of Kela (Mali).
By using an interactionist approach, he demonstrates how griots create –
both physically and metaphorically – a space to work in, and how they shape
social relations – for which the creation of alleged historical texts is a
prerequisite – through which conflicts are communicated and subsequently

„Jansen is the first scholar to provide us with
extensive insight into `jelikan‘ (griot speech) as
social practice and function. Jansen’s arguments attack many
long-accepted views of Mande oral tradition and will
undoubtedly raise controversy, but they are soundly based on
extensive and sensitive fieldwork.“ (Ralph A. Austen,
Professor of African History, University of Chicago)

Jan Jansen is a fellow of the Royal
Netherlands Academy of Arts and
Sciences and a member of the anthropology department at the University of
Leiden. His writings include a Ph.D. dissertation on the Sunjata epic
(1995) and a text edition of the Sunjata epic.