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What motivates gratuitous behaviour? What characterizes its expression? Who benefits from and who is excluded from our favour? In this chapter, we tackle the long-standing anthropological puzzle of how to attend to manifestations of spontaneity, free will to act, and sympathy – that is, manifestations of favour. We argue that acts of favour constitute a significant ethical dimension of social life. We show how favours perform the intermediary and balancing work between incommensurable values, interests, obligations, and ethical sensibilities that underpin our lives. Favours can mediate, for example, between the calculative values of the market and those of friendship and kin relations, between the divine grace and performing good deeds; or in the situations of radical distress, when the question of life and death is at stake. Ultimately, if human sociality is grounded in the exchange of sentiments and gratitude mediated by the ethical labour of favours, then favours need to be considered as one of the key articulations of the ethical condition of social life.
Situated in the borderlands of Southeast Europe, this essay explores how enduring patterns of transregional circulation and cosmopolitan sensibility unfold in the lives of dervish brotherhoods in the post-Cold War present. Following recent debates on connected histories in post-colonial studies and historical anthropology, long-standing mobile and circulating societies, and reinvigorated interest in empire, this essay focuses ethnographically on how members of a dervish brotherhood in Bosnia-Herzegovina cultivate relations with places, collectivities, and practices that exist on different temporal, spatial and geopolitical scales. These connections are centered around three modes of articulation—sonic, graphic, and genealogical—through which the dervish disciples imagine and realize transregional relations. This essay begins and concludes with a meditation on the need for a dialogue between ethnography and transregional history in order to appreciate modes of identification and imagination that go beyond the essentializing forms of collective identity that, in the post-imperial epoch, have been dominated by political and methodological nationalism.
“[The historian] ignores this … impeccable bibliography at his (or her) peril.”
In this brief note I hope to draw effective attention to Bibliotheca Missionum, a bibliography which, in its scope, reliability, and accessibility stands unequalled among bibliographies of any kind. More important, though, than its superior technical attributes is the fact that Bibliotheca Missionum provides entrée to a vast but largely dormant body of source materials -- materials which are as little used as they are indispensable to the proper study of the African past. With all fairness, it can be said that Bibliotheca Missionum's superiority is rivaled only by our disregard of it.
Bibliotheca Missionum was conceived by Robert Streit, a missionary of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. The first volume in the series appeared in 1917 and since then twenty-nine others have appeared. Initially the volumes appeared more or less under the auspices of the Oblates, but in the late 1920s the project was taken over by the newly-established Pontificia Biblioteca Missionaria in Rome. Streit was succeeded by Johannes Dindinger in 1930 and other Editors have since held office, but Bibliotheca Missionum continues to be referred to as “Streit and Dindinger.” Of the thirty volumes so far published, six (volumes 15 to 20) relate directly to Africa. All were published between 1951 and 1954 and include the following:
In addition, Vols. 1, 22, and 23 are devoted to work of general missiological import and naturally contain much that relates to Africa.
Readers may be interested to know that there are several little-known depositories of African-related Catholic missionary journals in the United States and Canada. Since these materials were not usually disseminated very widely when published, they are almost never to be found in academic and research libraries, nor, therefore, in the standard locating tools like Union List of Serials and its supplements. Because of this an effort is now being made to find at least one location in North America for each of the more than four hundred relevant journals. Likely possibilities include provincial and mother houses, teaching seminaries, monasteries, and provincial archives, as well as the libraries of institutions of higher learning affiliated with particular missionary orders. Although this project is very far from complete (and almost certainly will never attain the rather quixotic goal mentioned above) some early returns are in and several important collections have been identified. This note discusses the most useful of these, which relate to the White Fathers, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Scheutists, and the Verona Fathers. African historians need no introduction to the value of the published White Father materials. The White Fathers served throughout most of Africa and they published more than any other order on the peoples among whom they served. Many of their writings have been used by Africanists, but it remains true that the correspondence, reports, and articles which appeared in their own numerous journals have not been extensively consulted, no doubt because these journals are not widely available.
This continues to update the basic list of serial bibliographies of possible interest to Africanists which appeared in the 1983 volume of History in Africa and which will continue to appear to the extent that new materials are noticed. Most of the following items are of only peripheral interest to Africanists but each is likely to contain at least some material which does not appear in other bibliographies at all, or at least not so quickly. Where available, I have included OCLC numbers, which may be useful for those with access to the OCLC data base.
Published by the Magyar Mezogazdasagi Muzeum in Budapest, the Bibliographia attempts to incorporate all materials relating to rural and agricultural history and related fields, a field not so fully covered, as far as I know, by any other bibliography. Unfortunately, publication is behind (and may even have ceased); materials for 1975 and 1976 were covered in the volume published in 1979. This included a total of 5790 items in 10 major and numerous minor categories, including economic and social history, history of agrotechnics, prices and wages, agrarian ethnography, and agricultural settlements. A list (obviously incomplete) of 90 to 100 journals is included and there are geographical and author indexes.
The historian can of course be his own textual critic; but the editing of text has to precede its use as a historical document.
The view of the primacy of the properly edited source represents a notion long taken for granted by classical and medieval historians (among others) and philologists, as is evidenced by the very large number of edited texts that undergird their interpretative work, and which continue to appear regularly, including improved editions of previously-published texts. It cannot be said that Africanists (to mention only one group) have enthusiastically adopted a similar view with respect to their own sources.
In fact, if there was a hallmark of the nascent historiography of precolonial Africa, it was its commitment to rehabilitating oral sources as a legitimate tool for recovering the deeper past. The reasons for this development are obvious, perhaps even ineluctable: it provided a unifying esprit de corps which served to actuate its practitioners; it permitted the study of geographical areas not well served by other types of sources; it prompted apparently rapid progress in the field from virtually a standing start.
In the circumstances it is no surprise that written sources, typically the staple of most historical inquiry, were relegated to a supporting role. Like Akan stool disputants, African historians were frequently content to draft written/printed materials into service largely in attempts to corroborate information more gratifyingly elicited from oral sources. This state of affairs was appropriately mirrored in scholarly publishing during the period.
It must be premised that the journal contains statements that appear to be absolutely irreconcilable with the present topography of the Bahamas.
Despite its disappointingly meager immediate results, its role as catalyst for the great age of worldwide culture contact inevitably resulted in a lively interest in every detail of Columbus' first voyage to the New World. Continuing unabated for nearly five centuries, the interest has assumed many forms, ranging from the putative effects of contact on the Amerindians to the identity of Columbus' first landfall--just where did the Old World first view the New World? Though it might seem to be both straightforward and of minor interest, the latter issue has in fact aroused great controversy for more than two centuries and remains far from settled today, as it appears that the most recent bid for consensus has been rudely shattered in its turn.
The controversy arises not at all from the fact that there exist several and contradictory independent testimonies bearing on the issue. Quite the contrary, as there is only a single surviving source, the so-called Diario de a bordo, which purports to be, at least in part, a record of Columbus' voyage on a day-by-day basis. The history of this text as we have it is complicated and this goes some way towards explaining why so many issues based on it remain moot. The only known extant copy was discovered as recently as 1790 and is in the handwriting of Bartolomé de las Casas, the noted missionary and historian of the early Indies, who was also a friend of several members of Columbus' family.
A well conceived and executed reference book can become a perennial, a notable tool indispensable to research in the field…
Despite its relatively brief history, African studies has developed a remarkably abundant bibliographic infrastructure to support its aims. This is tangibly evidenced in the recent appearance of Yvette Scheven's cumulated bibliography of Africana bibliographies, which comprises citations to well over 3200 bibliographies of various stripes published between 1970 and 1986, or an average of nearly 200 each year. Of course, some of the parts of the structure overlap and even duplicate other parts, and by no means has every effort attained acceptable standards, but on the whole there has been little about which to be ashamed or mortified.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise. In theory at least, the obstacles to preparing useful bibliographies are not outrageously demanding, and not at all commensurate with their enduring value. Mechanically, there are only a few rules, but these are unrelenting: entries must be accurate in all their parts, as well as complete, yet should be economical as well, and not provide useless information; coverage must be comprehensive within stated parameters; and access must be facilitated by means of thoughtful organization, extensive cross-referencing, and thorough and sensitive indexing. The intellectual challenges to accomplishing these goals might not be overwhelming; nonetheless forethought, punctilious and constant attention to detail, linguistic ability, doggedness, and above all a commitment to the highest standards of accuracy are all imperative.
By common consent the constitution of an author's text is the highest aim a scholar can set before himself.
It is not easy to imagine any historian advancing such a claim these days--or at least meaning it. In fact many historians might not even be sure what Burnet meant by it. Yet, if the métier of textual criticism in history has fallen on hard times, it might not be quite true that there is no place for it at all, even in African historiography. At first glance, to be sure, it might seem quite beside the point to discuss “constituting” any text, written or oral, that Africanists might use as a source, since it must most often seem as if these texts are quite straightforward existing in the state we chance upon them and in that state only.
As is so frequently the case in the study of African history, for example, the only genuine sources for the life and activities of St. Patrick are two brief Latin texts he composed (or so it is widely believed), but which have survived only in versions committed to writing some two and a half centuries after his death. Well might we ask of materials like this: what text is to be “constituted” here? why is it necessary to engage in monotonous and time-consuming efforts to warrant the accuracy--that is, the verbal accuracy--of such texts? what is it possible to do anyway? and what is to be gained by doing it?
As it happens, contemporary textual critics would have several answers to each of these questions, but here I want to deal only with a single facet of modern textual critical activity, its unending preoccupation with “authorial intent,” leaving the discussion of several other pertinent issues for another time.
Over a period of several months in mid-1994 I became aware, as if by chain-reaction accident, of four instances in which scholarly journals declined to accept critiques of articles that had previously appeared in them. Interestingly, in none of the four cases was the critique rejected on the grounds of inherent quality, and in all cases the critique was considerably shorter than the original article. In one case a social science journal rejected a submission simply as “too polemical.” Another critical response was declined on the grounds that the critique in question had a “style correspond(ing) to a section on ‘Commentary’ or Debate that [the journal in question] does not have.”
In a third instance, the editors of a journal rejected a criticism of an author's case on the grounds that the earlier article had already managed to “accommodate the sort of criticism” being offered, even though the latter was evidentiary rather than methodological. Finally, the editor of yet another journal solicited and received two opinions about a paper submitted to it that disputed the arguments and conclusions of an article that had appeared there a few years earlier. Both referees (I was one of them) recommended publication, and did so with detailed arguments and suggestions for revisions, which the author successfully undertook. Yet the revised paper was rejected on the grounds that it would be “incomprehensible” to most readers—even though it was less technically dense—and better written—than the published paper that it was refuting!
Our [documentary editors'] duty is to present the record, the documents, with a disinterested devotion solely to the document. We search for these documents in order to create an historical record….Our duty…is to present the record, whether we approve of it or not.
Il me restait à décrypter ces pages, écrites en lignes serrées par crainte de manquer de papier, très fréquemment raturées, surchargées au point de devenir presque illisibles, et à en faire une édition critique avec les notes et commentaires nécessaires…
Claude-Hélène Perrot and Albert Van Dantzig have remarkably little to say about their modus operandi in this long-awaited edition of Marie-Joseph Bonnat's account of his at times enforced stay at and around the court of Asante from 1869 to 1874. Scattered comments stimulate us to infer that the former was largely responsible for the text and the latter for the apparatus. Beyond that, they devote only a few sentences to discussing the ways they went about their business of producing the text published here and, it must be said, what they say there is by no means particularly encouraging for those who might have been expecting a diplomatic text edition:
Dans le travail éditorial, dont résulte l'ouvrage présenté ici, si aucune coupure n'a été pratiquée, nous avons effectué quelques aménagements: la ponctuation a été revue, les incorrections grammaticales éliminées, de trop longues phrases ont été portagés, des prépositions supprimées. Le parti que nous avons pris est sans doute discutable.
Why yet another Africanist journal? the reader may ask. And, given the astonishin, increase in the number (now over 200) of journals devoted to Africa, the question is a fair one. Every new journal should seek to justify itself to the audience it addresses.
Despite the large number of African journals now available, not all aspects of the study of the African past are covered adequately. Because this study is so recent the emphasis, both in research itself and in the format of the journals, has been on the collection, use, and presentation of data. It cannot be denied that these procedures have been and will remain the chief concerns of historical enquiry, but they are not the only ones. The value of data obviously depends, first, on its validity, and, second, on its use. The assessment of these aspects in turn depends on the close and continued scrutiny of sources as well as on the quality of historical thought. We cannot agree with Livy, who wrote of his sources for early Roman history that “it is not worth the trouble either to affirm or to dispose of these matters [improbabilities] … we must abide by the tradition.”
This minor revision in Polynesian scholarship, the undermining of the authenticity of the traditions as historical … is one of the most significant developments in New Zealand archaeology.
This [belief in a Great Fleet] arose out of the desire of European scholars to provide a coherent framework by which to interpret the prehistory of New Zealand.
As heavily as historians must rely on orally-derived data for their study of the African past, historians of Oceania are far more in thrall to such materials in attempting to reconstruct the history of the various Pacific island groups. Although archeology and historical linguistics can sometimes help to provide broad sequences and interrelationships as well as evidence concerning origins, neither can, of course, provide circumstantial local detail or close dating. Oral traditions, often supported by genealogies of sometimes extraordinary length and complexity, have been collected in all parts of the Pacific almost since the time of Cook, but the latter part of the nineteenth century was a period of particularly feverish activity. The result is a vast body of material, much of it still in manuscript form. Of this corpus far more relates to the Maori people of New Zealand than to the inhabitants of any other island group.
In the course of the first half of this century a homogenized orthodox view of New Zealand's more remote past developed -- an interpretation based on three pivotal events, each of which came to be dated calendrically by means of Maori genealogies. The first was the arrival of the “discoverer” of New Zealand, one Kupe, who was dated to ca. 950. Then, two centuries later, came Toi and his companions. Finally, so this version goes, the so-called Great Fleet, comprising about seven large canoes (the number varies slightly) arrived in about 1350, and New Zealand began to be well and truly peopled by Maori.
The Association for the Publication of African Historical Sources (presently headquartered at the Department of History, Michigan State University) is now administering one umbrella National Endowment for the Humanities grant for editing, translating, and publishing significant African texts, and hopes to administer more in the future. In aid of this, the following guidelines, which should for the moment be considered to be in a draft stage, are offered in an effort both to bring uniformity to these editions and to stimulate thinking towards making the guidelines more thorough and enduring. Readers are urged to send suggestions for the latter to: David Henige, Memorial Library, 728 State St., Madison, WI 53706, U.S.A. If all goes well, it might be possible to publish an improved set of guidelines in next year's HA.
As discussed briefly below, efficient mobilization of word processing programs should enable intending editors to achieve better results at less cost. Such word processing programs as are now available are probably not equally suitable and any readers who have used any programs extensively or who have developed variants of their own, with respect either to editing or to linguistic transcription, are also urged to submit brief statements (up to ca. 1000 words) as to their experiences, whether good or bad. These could then be published en ensemble, also (probably) in the 1991 HA.
Annotation is possibly the aspect of any edition in which the editor is most vulnerable.
This is going to be a discourse without footnotes. I have always had a suppressed desire to risk such an indiscretion, and people have asked why I cannot write anything without timidly quoting chapter and verse from some German professor… Where we quote it will be from memory, wens [sic] and all, speaking with conviction but with no authority whatever.
If footnotes were a rational form of communication, Darwinian selection would have resulted in the eyes being set vertically rather than on an inefficient horizontal plane.
At a conference recently, a member of the audience criticized a historian (not present and not me) for adopting an “ad hominem” strategy in some published criticism. Later I asked her what she meant. Her reply was that the historian had not been content to disagree with certain approaches in another field, but went farther by specifying examples to sustain his case. In other words, he had named names. This struck me as rather a peculiar application of the phrase, but also as an example of the hypersensitivity that sometimes veils healthy and direct colloquy It would certainly be more unkind to shower criticisms at large, a kind of barrage bombing designed as much to intimidate a larger populace as to aim at limited but relevant targets. Moreover, it would be to offer an argument that was so diffuse and anonymous that it would be as meaningless as it was unfocused. One purpose of the present paper is to encourage ways to expand, but also to focus, colloquial arguments.
Hopkins' observation that bibliographies are “the basis of all academic study” would seem to be indisputable. Yet this paper is in large part a response to a study that indicates that, if not open to dispute in principle, in practice this dictum is more widely ignored than heeded. The study in question purports to demonstrate that, by and large, historians admittedly do not attempt to make systematic use of bibliographic tools, relying instead on footnotes, word of mouth, and serendipity, thereby falling short of their academic obligation to be exhaustive in the research enterprise. I was reluctant at first to credit this claim, preferring to put it down to a defect in the questionnaire approach of the author. But then I discovered that the latest edition of the Jahresberichte für deutsche Geschichte, by far the pre-eminent German historical bibliography, had escaped deflowering (that is, its pages had remained uncut) on the shelves of our Reference Department for nearly two years!
One robin does not, as they say, make a spring and I would hesitate to draw any far-reaching conclusions from this single example, no matter how egregious. Yet, when I began to search out historical bibliographies, I was surprised at how many there were, particularly so for serial bibliographies and indexes, of which I have so far found about 900, at least three times as many as I had naively anticipated initially.
Bibliographies come in a variety of forms. There are major retrospective bibliographies, which aim to include all or virtually all that has been published on a particular subject during a particular period of time. Such bibliographies sometimes appear as articles, but more often as books. For African studies, Scheven has undertaken to produce periodic indexes of bibliographies of this kind, in both formats.
The following items supplement my previous listing of serial indexes and bibliographies (HA, 10 , 109-49). Then overlooked, they have since come to my attention. Most of them seem to fall well short of being current so that my earlier caveat regarding the possibility that some bibliographies may have ceased is all the more appropriate here.
AAN is published by the Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientique, 15 quai Anatole-France, 75700 Paris. It is largely a current affairs reference source and its “Bibliographie” is by far the most important one now available for North Africa, making its omission for my earlier list all the more embarrassing. The bibliography for 1980 (the most recent available) consists of 1645 items arranged under: Documents Généraux; Histoire; Politique Intérieure; Défense Nationale; Politique Extérieure; Economie; Enseignement/Culture/Religion; Questions de Société--Espace; Emigration. The arrangement is general, then geographical under each of these main classifications, with an author index following. There is extensive cross-referencing but no list of journals and newspapers consulted. Each item is coded, apparently to facilitate ordering photocopies from CNRS.
Typically—very typically—fledgling African historians launch their careers by engaging in a bout of fieldwork, sometimes in archives, but more often on location among a group of people whose activities have somehow captured their interest. Almost as typically, this work in the field then becomes the principal source for historians' future published work, which often never proceeds beyond the bounds set by the initial fieldwork.
In this process of course the data accumulated in the field—field notes—become, possibly over and over again, the primary sources for this subsequent work. In some ways this process is not particularly different from that undertaken by other historians who use printed sources more heavily. There are differences, though, not the least of which is that these orally derived field notes grow stale with the passing of time and cannot be revivified as easily as archival notes.
Moreover, of course, far more often than not, field notes are never allowed to escape into the public domain, whereas archival sources are usually already there when the historian sets about using them. What were once laboriously handwritten notebooks, and then audio tapes are now more likley to be 3.5″ diskettes, but otherwise they are as jealously guarded in the 1990s as they were in the 1950s. Indeed, perhaps moreso, in that the usable lifespan of a diskette is likely to be significantly less than that of the notebook, if not of the audio tape. In short, in perhaps twenty years posterity will find itself forced to rely on the published products—maybe yet in paper format?—rather than on the raw data which once underpinned them. In the circumstances, it might be worth considering once again the implications of this, with reference to a particular instance of respectable vintage.