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The metaphor of health: Rivalry in precolonial Senegambia

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Chapter Summary

For Islam, theory and practice in health care were rooted in pre-Islamic conventions that became residual observances in its contact with Senegambian cultures. In relation to the political economy of precolonial health care practices, more specifically, what is it that we see here? Within the Senegambian context, well before French control, the powers of the health care structures had already been parceled out between indigenous and Islamic forces; between the erudition and elitism of the ulama and the indignation and righteousness of the marabout; between town and countryside. On the eve of French incursion into Senegambian space, rivalry played itself out in terms of the strains between different Islamic tariqas and ethnic differentiation in an area that was becoming increasingly fractured and hegemonized. This rivalry was also indicative of pluralism within the sphere of Senegalese health care. It was a reflection of competition for scarce resources and clientele.

Keywords: French; Islam; political economy; precolonial health care practices; rivalry; Senegambian cultures



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