Ref.: POCI/AFR/61152/2004

Funding institution(s): FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia

Keywords: Senegambia, Islamic-Wolof Model, Kaabunké Model, African Islam


Although Senegambia has long been taken as “object” in multiple works, its construction has never been tested, as a meta-operative concept, of an assumed monolithic social system. For instance, one of the “normative models” under analysis in this project, Kaabunké, has been being studied by reference to another, Islamic-Wolof, today assumed as holder of a dominant status, of which the former would be just an adaptation, imposed by its geographic peripheral position.

It is the present validity of Senegambia that this project aims to test, elevating to study object “the relations between the “Modern” actors and the “Traditional” ones”. It will also promote an intra-orientated (sociological focus) and inter-temporal (historical focus) analysis, as a way to identify an eventual breaking point(s), for example, in an historical evaluation of the moment in which a certain concept ceases to be valid. This is axial, since the actual reflection on this subject is weak and non systematic. African Studies are then expected to resist to this spread of Post Modern Relativism, imposing their eclecticism as a way to adapt Modernity to African specificities and originalities. Two seminars of post-graduation (2005/2006 onwards), one in History, other on Sociology, will contribute to this aim.

The adopted methodology will attempt the articulation between History and Sociology, allowing this cognitive binominal, to amplify the existing synergies and to enrich the dialectical character of the project. Therefore, one will endeavour the rupture with the inherited practises of an ubiquitous Africanism, more and more insufficient and fallacious. Consequently, a circular methodological path will be followed, which will have as first and last point, the elevation of the scientific debate to instrument of guidance of the research. In the field, direct observation, interviews, oral tradition, the use of historical documents and bibliographical research, will then benefit from an ex-ante and ex-post framing that assures them a rigorous and effective chaining.

The theoretical and epistemological reflections will have as reference the Structuration Theory that, settled on “Structure”, “Agency” and “Social System”, that satisfies the present methodological demands and assures a better link with the reality. Therefore the choice of the analytical proposal of Mouzelis, is justified, since it considers the Sociological Theory onus to be the creation of the tools that reveal how the social tissues are produced, reproduced and transformed, as far as one adopts an historical reference to permit its contextualization. Sociology appears then, in articulation with the Historical background and is responsible for the edification of an archetypical architecture of Social Sciences. The aim is to assure that social relations are valued, both as parts of an historical totality, and by their relevance as social constructions per se.

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