In this book chapters explore the impact of the modern African diaspora from the sixteenth century onwards on Western notions of history and culture, examining the role Bernal's claim has played in European and American understandings of history, and in classical, European, American, and Caribbean literary production.
This book examines the history of intellectuals and literary writers who contested the white, dominant Euro-American constructions of the classical past and its influence on the present. This book explores the history of medieval Nubia through the Old Nubian documentary archives excavated at Qasr Ibrim in southern Egypt. It focuses in particular on a single archive of land sales from It focuses in particular on a single archive of land sales from the late twelfth century ad.
It argues that the evidence from this archive alters our understanding of medieval Nubian society and economy. We should no longer see medieval Nubia as an isolated society with a primitive, demonetized economy. Nubian sales and accounts show wide levels of monetization. Old Nubian land sales have Greco-Roman Egyptian land sales as their historical basis.
These land sales also suggest the existence of land purchase for investment by high-ranking officials who carried the expenses of the state, much like late antique landholders in Egypt.
Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies 1
But the documents from Qasr Ibrim also reveal Nubian cultural practices along side this Roman cultural inheritance. In particular, we see evidence for public feasts as a widespread practice: Communal eating is a way for medieval Nubians to confirm the legitimacy of their legal transactions and their social hierarchies. Thus our records for medieval Nubia reveal a hybrid civilization with African and Byzantine characteristics. This history foregrounds the most marginal sector of the Roman population—the provincial peasantry—to paint a picture of peasant society.
Making use of detailed archaeological and textual evidence, Making use of detailed archaeological and textual evidence, the book examines the peasantry in relation to the upper classes in Christian North Africa, tracing that region's social and cultural history from Punic times to the eve of the Islamic conquest. The author demonstrates that during the period when Christianity was spreading to both city and countryside in North Africa, a convergence of economic interests narrowed the gap between the rustici and the urbani, creating a consumer revolution of sorts among the peasants.
The book's postcolonial perspective points to the empowerment of North African peasants and gives voice to lower social classes across the Roman world.
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The author demonstrates that during the period when Christianity was spreading to both city and countryside in North Africa, a convergence of economic interests narrowed the gap between the rustici and the urbani , creating a consumer revolution of sorts among the peasants. This book studies the public life of an extraordinary Egyptian monk, Shenoute of Atripe, and the discourse on poverty that he put forward to promote and legitimize his active role in society.
Shenoute was not only the abbot of a large monastic federation in southern Egypt but also a holy man with supraregional influence. His rise to public prominence is intimately linked to his energetic development of the care of the poor at his monastery. Many of the distinctive concerns of late antiquity—rural patronage, religious intolerance, the role of the state, gift giving—can be traced in his writings, but they are consistently articulated in terms of the care of the poor.
Shenoute attacks paganism—in word and deed—not only because it is pagan but also because it oppresses the poor. His tirades denounce rural patronage as a form of exploitation, but only when practiced by rival patrons. And he justifies the controversial political involvement of an abbot by acting as the spokesman of the poor, a truth-teller who does not fear power. OSO version 0. Absence of subsequent documentation prevents us from judging the success of these attempts. Those that do so must have particular significance, although we cannot tell precisely what: perhaps these documents are delivered only by or to specific people, or address only specific issues.
Consider text P. What is it? The King has ordered you. Why are you reluctant to approach the task? Indeed, the questioning and almost conversational nature of these texts sound as if the sender and recipient are in the same room, as if the recipient is hearing oral communication. We know little about the relationship between orality and documentary production in medieval Nubia, although the idioms of Nubian correspondence suggest that letters bring us close to medieval spoken Nubian.
Medieval Nubia : a social and economic history
One remarkable dossier from Qasr Ibrim, a dozen letters to Dauti, whose title perhaps suggests that he was a tax-collector, shows what might have been typical. Regional governors give instruction to tax-collectors and at the same time reinforce the will of the central government by drawing attention to the instructions of the queen-mother. This is a multi-stage chain from the central court at Dongola to the regional governor of Nobadia and then down to local officials. Similarly, letters contain instructions to write other letters.
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This is another multi-stage chain, connecting an unknown lower functionary to a regional big man to the highest regional official. Considering how fragmentary our documentary finds are and how many Nubian sites remain to be excavated, these chains are a small portion of the original network. We can imagine that medieval Nubian governance included a constant circulation of these letters, from the center to the periphery, from the higher levels of social status to the lower, and back again.
Many of these texts deal with the shipment, payment, and receipt of goods: here, again following Goody, literacy can help facilitate long-distance trade. Put another way, their function is greater than their content: above and beyond the often trivial, tangible instructions they convey, the materiality and tangibility of the documents create and reinforce webs of power. The same is true of land sales, over a dozen of which come from Qasr Ibrim, dating to the 12th through the 15th centuries AD. Land sales show the accumulation of power and prestige.
We see this first in the witness lists themselves.
Rather, the participants cared about their social standing, as they took care to record the titles and offices of all witnesses. Evidence suggests that the land sellers themselves recruited the witnesses. This presumably means that they would deliberately recruit high-prestige witnesses to lend legitimacy to their legal acts. Many scholars of medieval Nubia come to the field through an initial background in the study of Greco-Roman and Coptic Egypt.
It seems more likely that in medieval Nubia, legal transactions have legitimacy through the witnesses and social events surrounding them. The items we do understand include loaves of bread and units of wine. Both the amounts and the commodities vary, which suggests that no fixed amount was expected in payment to the witnesses.
Rather, the fact of giving food and drink to the witnesses—and the fact of recording those gifts—suggests that the witness feasts were again intended to heighten the prestige of the seller and increase the legitimacy of the sale in the eyes of the community. Thus the creation of an Old Nubian land sale is not simply the creation of legal legitimacy, as we might expect in a Greco-Roman or Coptic legal framework, but the creation of social legitimacy as well. The fifteen published land sales from Qasr Ibrim include five with buyers or sellers holding this position.
Nonetheless, the fact that so many of these land sales involve eparchs suggests that economic power was intimately tied to political power. Particularly revealing in this regard are the two land sales to Gourresi in the s. In both cases, the two men are almost certainly identical. Indeed, the fact that we are dealing with a governor as the purchaser in the sale may explain why local bishops are present as witnesses of each land sale.
We can easily imagine that the local nobles whose submission he receives later in the decade are the very people who witnessed his land purchases. Goody, Clanchy, and others have shown how the transition to literacy alters property law and property rights.follow site
Dotawo: A Journal of Nubian Studies 1
Appeals to memory and the collective knowledge of the community are no longer sufficient, as they may have been in pre-literate Nubia. Now, the written word is necessary to assert a legal claim to property. Finally, we should consider the accounts. When first published, some of these documents were merely labeled as lists by their modern editor.
Given their Spartan nature, it is easy to see why.
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Rather, they indicate networks of power and submission. Their format strongly suggests this. Helpfully, we have documentary evidence of the other side of the story. Joost Hagen has recognized that three accounts from Qasr Ibrim are church accounts listing income in kind—wine, most likely—from various churches in a wide range of regions in northern Nubia. The charge of the Apostle.
Every entry with a church name followed by an alpha or beta is an indication that a church is paying one or two units of liquid, presumably wine. These texts are not designed to aid adding the numbers and, indeed, include no totals. The collections are less important for their amounts than for the expression of the subordination of the local churches to their ecclesiastical patron. Nubian accounts record geographic networks of patronage: these payment lists are a visible reminder of the power of the receiving center over the paying periphery.