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Maribayasa: Negotiating Gold, Spirits and Islamic Renewal in a Malian Islamic Borderland

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Chapter Summary

This chapter argues that in Selofara, Maribayasa continues to be libated because of the women's recognition of their dependence on bush spirits (jinew) which, along with the site of the tree, cannot easily be defined by analysts or participants as either Muslim or non-Muslim. It shows that a definition of Maribayasa as a Muslim or non-Muslim site is contingent: it depends on local applications of current regional and global debates on definitions of being Muslim. Claims on who and what is a 'real' Muslim are regularly made; a debate that has become even more intense with the current political situation in Northern Mali. Since the concept of jinew itself has roots in Islam, Maribayasa has in the past been defined by its adherents as a place of worship appropriate for 'real' Muslims. The Maribayasa ritual complex focuses on sacred liminal space where people and spirits meet and express their interdependency.

Keywords: bush spirits; Islam; Maribayasa; Muslim; Northern Mali; Selofara; worship



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