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Reconfiguring SlaveryWest African Trajectories$
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Benedetta Rossi

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781846311994

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846315640

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Curse and Blessing: On Post-slavery Modes of Perception and Agency in Benin1

Curse and Blessing: On Post-slavery Modes of Perception and Agency in Benin1

(p.116) 6 Curse and Blessing: On Post-slavery Modes of Perception and Agency in Benin1
Reconfiguring Slavery

Christine Hardung

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the strategies of Gannunkeebe, a Muslim community living in the provinces of Borgu and Atakora in Northern Benin, and the influence of ideologies of hierarchy on the ideas and behaviours of ex-dependent groups. It looks at the persistent low status of slave descendants in spite of their economic success. From an ideological standpoint, ongoing belief in a FulBe master's power to curse and bless is a testament to his authority. Curses and blessings are ‘legitimate attributes of authority’ in the ideology of slavery. The chapter analyses the conditions that result in either resilience or demise for the hierarchy by studying slaves' changing dispositions towards the masters' perceived supernatural power across groups and generations. It argues that ‘dependence’ should be understood in the context of the cultural significance of ‘freedom’. The chapter also shows how the acceptance of hierarchy is paradoxically linked to epistemological negotiations to alter the negative connotations of slave status.

Keywords:   Benin, Gannunkeebe, hierarchy, FulBe master, supernatural power, slave status, slavery, curses, blessings, slaves

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