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The participation in Bu Ma'za's movement of these two oases and the Awlad Na'il reveals how ecologically based relationships between pastoralists and agrarian communities influenced political behavior. The Awlad Na'il traditionally used these particular oases as storage places; the ties of patronage between the oases' inhabitants and fellow tribal combatants provided a framework for political cooperation. As important, most belonged to the same saff, the Banu Ghana.
Peristiany, ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, , , characterized tribal warfare as a set of rituals in which the aim was to avenge honor; "one did not seek to kill or crush one's opponent. Thus the function and operation of warfare in traditional North African society could differ substantially from the European context. The ex-mahdi was imprisoned in Paris, where he became, as was true of the amir, an exotic object of curiosity on the part of the French.
Finally, Emperor Louis Napoleon pardoned him; he was allowed to settle in the Ottoman Empire, where he was admitted to the Ottoman army as a colonel. James C.
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Von Sivers, "The Realm," , notes that millenarian movements tended to occur when alternative forms of militant protest had failed or were deemed inferior to the mahdi's self-proclaimed mission. This continued to be the case until the revolt. The qadis were no longer consulted in judicial matters by the tribes of the countryside and the majlis , or superior tribunal, no longer functioned either.
Fines and punishments were inflicted upon the tribes without order or reason. The barranis had traditionally supplied information; under the Turkish regime, the Mzabis, due to constant comings and goings between the Sahara and the Mediterranean, were the main source of news for the central government in Algiers. Julien, Historie , Estimates of the exact numbers of barranis in the precolonial and early colonial periods are impressionistic. In the s, when statistics become more reliable, it was estimated that nearly half of the adult male population of the small oasis-village of al-Burj had at one time or another worked in Algiers or Constantine.
Carette, a Saint-Simonian army officer and later prefect of the Constantine, was a pioneer in colonial studies devoted to the Sahara, then believed to contain vast, unexplored riches. In Carette began to gather meticulous data on the desert from native informants who were Algerian or Tunisian merchants.
While the interests of the French military naturally tended toward political and strategic concerns, commerce was regarded as a necessary adjunct to domination of the pastoral-nomadic and oasis peoples. Even though Carette, who published a number of studies, never visited many of the regions about which he wrote, his work was remarkably accurate due to his research methods. By this period, some had a limited understanding of the French language; the professions monopolized by the Biskris in Algiers and elsewhere--messengers, porters, and water carriers--made them especially well placed to both gather and disseminate rumors and information.
Evidence that the barranis were colporteurs of politically subversive rumors is also. The fact that taxation was integrated into the rumor mills suggests that fiscal disorder played a role in focusing economic grievances prior to the Bu Ziyan uprising. The National Assembly in Paris allocated considerable sums of money in for settling French families in Algeria; this act was followed by the arrival of large numbers of colons the next year, much to the distress of the indigenous population, who correctly foresaw the loss of their lands to the settlers.
In August , E. Along the borders with Tripolitania were Tunisian tribes, many of whom had "never before laid eyes upon a European. Later he was able to ascertain the exactitude of what the tribes had told him through European newspapers. As in previous centuries, trade routes and traders functioned as a news wire service in the nineteenth century, and information regarding political changes in Algeria had been transported into southwestern Tunisia by merchants from the Constantine.
The significant change is, however, the expansion of the information circuits in North Africa to include Europe and the Europeans. This global distribution of news was a product of imperialism, colonialism, and the Eurocentric world market system which made news an politically indispensable commodity of exchange. As Jack Goody notes in The Interface between the Written and the Oral Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, , there exists a constant dialectic between the domains of the written and oral; North Africa had an ancient tradition of writing and written knowledge, whether devoted to the realms of the sacred or profane.
Unfortunately, Goody does not address the issue of rumors and spontaneous news; see also Allan Christe-low, "Oral, Manuscript, and Printed Expressions of Historical Consciousness in Colonial Algeria," Africana Journal 15 : My conclusions regarding the significance of rumors in North Africa are confirmed by similar observations made by Anand A.
Yang in. The belief in the mahdi's arrival remained in force in the Maghrib among both ordinary people and elites until the early twentieth century; the Kabyle scholar, al-Zawawi, still believed that the mahdi's appearance was possible at the turn of the century; Pessah Shinar, "A Controversial Exponent of the Algerian Salafiyya: The Kabyle 'Alim, Imam and Sharif Abu Ya'la Sa'id b. Leiden: E.
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Brill, , Scott, Weapons , , points out that malicious tales, anecdotes, slander, and gossip about those wielding power were part of the arsenal of the weak in what he calls a "cold war" of class antagonisms. In a letter of 25 October , a Bureau Arabe officer in Biskra reported to Algiers that a reconnaissance cavalry had arrested a Tunisian courier carrying a packet of letters from the Bey of Tunis to Hajj Ahmad Bey of the Constantine, then in hiding in eastern Algeria. According to the military officer who read the seized missives, they "contained the worst lies but these letters find much credence among the Arabs and the Kabyles.
The arrested courier, named Muhammad b. His father is a servant of the bey in Tunis and for four years now his father has been in the [Tunisian] bey's household service. Mustafa b. Yang, "A Conversation," White, trans. Ted W. Margadant, French Peasants in Revolt: The Insurrection of Princeton: Princeton University Press, , , observed that "false rumors stimulated widespread popular participation in the revolt. Anonymous, "Historique de Biskra," , AGGA, 10 H 18; there were other outbreaks of insubordination toward French authorities in which are subtle indicators of the political climate.
One such example is from the Awras region; an ordinary woman, who was also a female member of the Rahmaniyya tariqa, threatened French military officers in Batna; reported in AGGA, 16 H 2 The traditions held that the mahdi would be a descendant of 'Ali and Fatima through their son, Husayn.
One popular mahdist tradition recorded later in the century but representative of earlier such lore claimed that "a sharif will appear before you; he will be from the line of Husayn, son of 'Ali and Fatima. New functionalized optical materials A.
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