The Founding of MANSA

By David C. Conrad

In the early 1980s at annual meetings of the African Studies Association, specialists in Mande culture, history, and other studies found themselves repeatedly drawn together to discuss their work and to exchange ideas. Several years of informal gatherings took place in hotels and restaurants in such cities as Washington DC, New Orleans and Los Angeles.
On November 1, 1986 in Madison, Wisconsin, the informal Mande group was invited by Gerald Cashion to Suite 619 of the Concourse Hotel to discuss the possibility of forming an organization devoted to Mande studies. This proved to be the founding of the Mande Studies Association, an organization of scholars specializing in the study of a West African society that holds a particular fascination for those who have lived and worked with the Mande people and who have become familiar with their history and culture.

Present at the founder's meeting were Mary Jo Arnoldi, Gerald Cashion, David Conrad, Ariane DeLuz, Mona Etienne, Kate Ezra, Barbara Frank, Alma Gottlieb, Kathryn Green, Thomas Hale, Robert Handloff, Steve Harmon, John Johnson, Lansiné Kaba, Mamadou Kanté, Jon Kirby, Martin Klein, Robert Launay, Adria LaViolette, Nehemia Levtzion, Ann McDougall, Roderick McIntosh, Patrick McNaughton, Richard Roberts and Walter van Beek (MANSA Newsletter 1, 1986: 1).

During that original gathering, Nehemia Levtzion suggested that the Mande language term mansa meaning “king” (also "ruler," "lord," "emperor") would be an appropriate acronym for the Mande Studies Association. MANSA was immediately adopted. It was also agreed that the organization would publish a newsletter at least twice per year. There immediately arose the question of who would take on the job of editing and distributing it, and the background to how that was resolved is as follows:

On the occasions of several African Studies Association meetings beginning with the one in 1981, Tom Hale and Paul Stoller organized a series of roundtable discussions on topics related to cultures of the Middle Niger River. These "Bend in the River" panels brought together a nucleus of people interested in Mande and Songhay history and culture. On one occasion Hale suggested that David Conrad edit an occasional newsletter to promote communication between "Bend in the River" participants and other interested persons. Nothing came of the idea then, but in 1986 during the first MANSA meeting, Hale and Conrad both recalled the earlier occasion and the latter agreed to try and make good on the original plan. Robert Launay suggested that the editor ought to have a respectable title to make it worth his while, and that is how Conrad became President of the fledgling organization.

Kathryn Green consented to take minutes of the meeting, thus becoming the first MANSA secretary. Barbara Frank and others recalled that in recent years Marie Perinbam had been a catalyst of the group, enthusiastically organizing informal gatherings (including a particularly boisterous one at a restaurant in New Orleans), so Perinbam was elected vice-president in absentia. Gerald Cashion and Robert Launay agreed to serve as the first advisory board members (see list of officers and past officers elsewhere on this website).

International Membership

As of 2004, the Mande Studies Association had c. 260 members in 28 countries:
Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Zimbabwe.
Asia: China, Japan.
Europe: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Middle East: Israel.
North America: Canada, United States.
South Pacific: Australia.

MANSA and the African Studies Association

On 4 May, 1993, MANSA became an Associate Organization of the African Studies Association (U.S.A.). In order to maintain this status, one-third of MANSA's membership must be members of the ASA. At the founders' meeting in 1986, it was decided that one of the organization's basic activities would be to sponsor Mande studies panels at the annual meetings of the African Studies Association. In the nineteen ASA meetings since our founding (1987-2005), MANSA-members have organized more than fifty panels devoted to Mande studies. Over the years, various MANSA members have served as officers of the African Studies Association, including Martin Klein (President, 1990-91), David Robinson (President, 1992-93), Lansiné Kaba (President, 1999-2000), and Maria Grosz-Ngaté (Board of Directors, 2002-2005).

MANSA and the Institut des Sciences Humaines of Bamako, Mali

The Institut des Sciences Humaines (ISH) has long played an important role in the careers of many scholars of the Mande world, providing letters of invitation, research authorization, field assistance, and collaboration with Malian colleagues. Some of our members' relations with ISH pre-date MANSA's existence by many years, when the institute was under the direction of Mamadou Sarr and the offices were located in one of the buildings near the Place de l'Independence. Subsequently under the direction of Kléna Sanogo, from its location on the Avenue Kassé Keita, later in Niarela where it moved in 1998, and now in its location in Quartier Hamdalaye, ISH has steadily increased its support of researchers involved with the Mande and their neighbors. Since MANSA's founding many of the staff at ISH have become active members, participating in projects with their visiting colleagues, conducting their own research, and presenting papers at various international conferences.

MANSA and the West African Research Association

The West African Research Association (WARA) was founded in 1989 for the purpose of promoting scholarly exchange and collaboration between American and West African researchers. In 1992 the Senegalese government provided a site for the establishment of the association's West African Research Center (WARC), in Dakar. Since WARA's founding there has been a close association between it and the Mande Studies Association. Several MANSA members have served as officers in WARA, including Jeanne Toungara, Secretary (1995-1997), Thomas Hale, Advisory Board (1995-99), David Conrad, Advisory Board (1995-97), Fiona McLaughlin, WARC Director (1999), and David Robinson, Vice-President (1996-2002).

WARA held its first conference, the International Symposium "West Africa and the Global Challenge" June 22-28, 1997 in Dakar, Senegal, and this meeting was marked by a singularly distressing event in the story of MANSA. On June 21 shortly after arriving in Dakar to attend the conference, MANSA Vice-President B. Marie Perinbam suddenly died at the Teranga Hotel. WARA President Edris Makward dedicated the conference to our departed friend, and her MANSA colleagues who remained to carry on included Ferdinand de Jong, Cornelia Giesing, Kathryn Green, Lilyan Kesteloot, Kirsten Langeveld, Barbara Lewis, Peter Mark, Muhammad Saïdou N'Daou, David Robinson, Jeanne Toungara, Vera Viditz-Ward, and David Conrad (MANSA Newsletter 35, 1997: 1-2).

MANSA in Guinea-Conakry

In the summers of 1991 and 1992 the Mande Studies Association began establishing cordial and productive relations with faculty and staff at the universities of Conakry and Kankan, and at the National Archives in Conakry. Two key figures at the University of Conakry have been Mamadou Kodiougou Diallo, Vice-Recteur de la Recherche Scientifique and N'Fanly Kouyate, Directeur des Relations Exterieures. In the early 90s, working with Louise Bedichek who was at that time (June 1987-September 1991) the extraordinarily effective Public Affairs Officer at the United States Information Service (USIS), Mamadou Kodiougou Diallo who was at that time Vice-Recteur de Recherche at the University of Conakry, smoothed the way for research authorization and began requesting and personally welcoming American scholars. N'Fanly Kouyate, also of the University of Conakry, was the main force in acquiring a government apartment as residence and maison de passage for Fulbrighters and other American researchers at Boulibinet on the tip of the penninsula. Another key figure in expediting visitors' research has been Almamy Stell Conté, Directeur Nationale des Archives de Guinée in Conakry.

Our acquaintance with faculty and staff at the University of Kankan commenced in 1991, when MANSA's representative received a gracious welcome and tour of the university from Mamadou Sadialiou Bah, the Vice-Recteur chargé de la Recherche. The frequency of visits and cooperative projects markedly increased after 1992 with the comings and goings of a series of researchers on Fulbright fellowships. During those years, several students at the university served as valued research and translation assistants to the Fulbrighters. In 1994 MANSA members began contributing books to the new American Cultural Center Library, which at the time was directed by Mohamed Fofana. More recently, MANSA preparations for the Sixth International Conference on Mande Studies that will be partly held in Kankan have been greatly aided by the dynamic support of the Recteur of the University of Kankan, Seydouba Camara.
MANSA and the Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisa of Guinea-Bissau.

In 1988 MANSA was contacted by Carlos Lopes who was then Director of INEP, the largest and most active research institute in Guinea-Bissau. Lopes' initiative led to an informal affiliation between INEP and the Mande Studies Association (MANSA Newsletter 5, 1988: 1). On 7 June, 1998, INEP's research endeavors were shattered by a war that flared up in Guinea-Bissau between veterans of the armed struggle for national liberation, and government troops supported by armies of neighboring countries. The war brought death and displacement to thousands of local citizens, and among the infrastructures most affected by the war's destruction was the building complex housing INEP which was located less than a kilometer from the initial frontline of the hostilities. Occupation of the INEP complex by foreign troops resulted in near total destruction of the facility, including its library, research equipment and archives containing fifeen years' of painstakingly compiled audio, visual, and printed research documentation (MANSA Newsletter 38, 1998: 1-6). Early on, MANSA began receiving electronic bulletins from INEP Director Peter Mendy in Dakar via Cornelia Giesing who had taken refuge in Germany. The bulletins periodically updated progress of the hostilities, cease-fires and negotiations. Forwarded to MANSA members and picked up by Africa Research Central and H-West Africa for wider distribution, they were also used by Professor Mustapha Dahda to help coordinate the collection of research data from universities in the United States and abroad, to begin rebuilding a collection for INEP's future reconstruction.

MANSA and The Gambia

Research by MANSA members in The Gambia is authorized and expedited by the National Council for Arts and Culture in Banjul. MANSA's relationship with Gambian colleagues achieved a new level in June, 1998 with the Fourth International Conference on Mande Studies that was held near Banjul at the Senegambia Beach Hotel (see “Conferences”).

International Conference on Manding Studies: SOAS, London 1972
At the 1988 MANSA meeting in Chicago, Ariane DeLuz suggested that the organization convene a larger meeting every three years in which we would endeavor to draw as great an international representation as possible (MANSA Newsletter 7, 1988: 3). The idea was well-received, and at the 1989 meeting in Atlanta, MANSA members began to talk about organizing an international conference. Adam Ba Konaré spoke at length on the importance of holding the conference on African soil and argued in favor of Bamako. Lansiné Kaba recalled the success of the famous Conference on Manding Studies held at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Kaba suggested that another international conference on Mande studies would continue the trend of reclaiming African history for the continent (MANSA Newsletter 10, 1989: 3). Indeed, the SOAS conference (30 June-3 July 1972) did set an auspicious precedent. Chaired by David Dalby, the official conference program lists 240 participants, ninety-four of which presented papers. That meeting included nearly every notable scholar in Mande studies at that time, along with many others who would later make significant contributions to the field.

Fourteen years before the founding of the Mande Studies Association, the following scholars presented papers at the 1972 SOAS Conference on Manding Studies: Jean-Loup Amselle, Oumar Ba, Jean Bazin, Nawal Bell, Charles Bird, Jean Boulegue, Jean-Louis Boutillier, Gérard Brasseur, Paule Brasseur, René Bravmann, Louis-Jean Calvet, Laye Camara, Sory Camara, Diango Cissé, Youssouf Cissé, Sékéné-Mody Cissoko, Bakary Coulibaly, Philip Curtin, Seni Darbo, Massa Maghan Diabaté, Pathé Diagne, Marcelle Diarrassouba, Germaine Dieterlen, Abdoulaye Sokhna Diop, John Donne, Bouly Dramé, Gisèle Ducos, Gérard Dumestre, Marguerite Dupire, Marie-Paule Ferry, Gérard Galtier, Peter Gingiss, N'Baye Gueye, Matthew Hill, Svend Holsoe, Nicholas Hopkins, Maurice Houis, John Hunwick, Musa Baba Idris, Pascal Imperato, Gordon Innes, Marion Johnson, Lansiné Kaba, I.B. Kaké, Mrs. J.N. Karlik, J. Karlik, Lilyan Kesteloot, Jan Knappert, Roderick Knight, Moulouk Konaté, Robert Launay, Frances Leary, Nehemia Levtzion, Barbara Lewis, Emile Leynaud, Mark Lipschutz, Ellen Long, Ronald Long, René Luneau, Fakoney Ly, Raymond Mauny, Daniel McCall, Claude Meillassoux, Bai Moore, Patrick Musnon, Bokar N'Diaye, Dorith Ofri, Robert Pageard, R.E. Parkin, Yves Person, Ruth Phillips, Lucy Quimby, Charlotte Quinn, Walter Reichold, James Riddell, Amar Samb, Lamin Sanneh, Matt Schaffer, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Christiane Seydou, Mamby Sidibé, Bakari Sidibé, David Skinner, Neil Skinner, Raymond Smyke, Richard Spears, Gail Stewart, Bernard Surugue, Moussa Oumar Sy, A. Teixeira da Mota, Amadou Traoré, A.K. Turay, Peter Weil, Dominique Zahan (Manding Conference 1972 Report and Recommendations: 32-36).

Second International Conference on Mande Studies: Bamako, Mali 1993

Planning what would be the second international conference on Mande studies (though the first to be conceived by MANSA), the principal organizer Kathryn Green and other participants were clear in their determination that it should be held on African soil in order to maximize the participation of African colleagues. After nearly four years of concerted effort by MANSA members in the United States and Mali, the Second International Conference on Mande Studies was finally held at the Islamic Cultural Center in Bamako, 15-19 March, 1993. The opening session featured an address by Adam Ba Konaré who, at the 1989 MANSA meeting in Atlanta, had originally advocated Bamako as our venue. Since that time she had become the First Lady of Mali (June 1992), and on the final evening of the conference, participants were honored by President Alpha Konaré in a reception at the presidential palace.

With its thirty-three papers presented on eight panels, the Bamako conference was modest compared to the one at SOAS twenty-one years earlier. African colleagues residing in West Africa  were actively involved, with eight of the papers being presented by Malians and one from Côte d'Ivoire. Despite the unfortunate timing of being held during Ramadan, many other Malians attended the panels, and the conference was well covered by L'Essor and Malian television (ORTM). On the day after the official closing, Susan Keech McIntosh and Tereba Togola unoffially extended the conference for an audience of nearly one hundred Malians by appearing at the Musée Nationale for a slide presentation and lecture on Jenne-jeno's second excavation season (MANSA Newsletter 21, 1993: 11).

Panelists and discussants at the Second International Conference on Mande Studies: Jean-Loup Amselle, Mary Jo Arnoldi, Ralph Austen, Seydou Camara, Eric Charry, David Conrad, Siaka Diarra, Mamadou Diawara, Kate Ezra, Barbara Frank, Kathryn Green, Jan Jansen, Adam Ba Konaré, Yacouba Konaté, Nehemia Levtzion, Carlos Lopes, François Manchuelle, James McGuire, Susan McIntosh, Georges Meurillon, B. Marie Perinbam, Victoria Rovine, Julianne Short-Freeman, Eric Silla, Moussa Sow, Abdoulaye Sylla, Tal Tamari, Stanley Tarver, Carol Thompson, Témoré Tioulenta, Tereba Togola, Ismaila Samba Traoré, Ed van Hoven, Peter Weil, Clemens Zobel (for paper titles see MANSA Newsletter 21, 1993: 5-7).

The Sunjata Epic Conference: Northwestern University 1992

In the year leading up to the Bamako conference, Ralph Austen organized a small conference on the Sunjata Epic at the Institute for Advanced Study & Research in the African Humanities at Northwestern University, November 13-15, 1992. Although it was not officially conceived or organized under the auspices of the Mande Studies Association, this was in fact an ad hoc MANSA function because all of the participants have been at one time or another, members of our organization: Ralph Austen, Stephen Belcher, Charles Bird, Stephen Bulman, Seydou Camara, David Conrad, Mamadou Diawara, Paulo Farias, Tom Hale, Jim McGuire, Tal Tamari, Karim Traoré, and Ivor Wilks. Focusing as it did on historiographical problems and literary themes involving the charismatic ancestors of Manden, this gathering was an appropriate prelude to the international conference to be held in Bamako the following year (for paper titles see MANSA Newsletter 19, 1992: 3).

Third International Conference on Mande Studies: Leiden, The Netherlands 1995

In Bamako, one advantage of holding an international conference on West African soil proved to be the participation of doctoral students from Europe and the United States who happened to be doing   research in Mali at the right time. One result of the attendance by several European students was that in the next two years MANSA received an infusion of new energy from a surprisingly large and active group of scholars in The Netherlands. A direct benefit of their participation was that only two years after the Bamako meeting, the Third International Conference on Mande Studies took place 20-24 March, 1995 in Leiden, The Netherlands at the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde.

Co-organized by Jan Jansen and David Conrad, the Leiden conference received substantial support from Germany's Bremer Stiftung für Geschichte and several institutions of The Netherlands: the Research School CNWS, the Research School CERES, the African Studies Centre, the Rijks Museum voor Volkenkunde, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all of whom contributed generously in providing necessary funding, personnel and facilities. The meeting included eleven panels on which fifty-six papers were presented. The Rijks Museum voor Volkenkunde featured an exhibit on the city of Jenne in Mali, and there were presentations of the films Sanji--Water from Heaven directed by Paul Folmer and Salina Haledo, and Sunjata Banta, directed by Paul Folmer and Ed van Hoven. A concert of Mande music featured bala by Namankoumba Kouyaté and Eric Charry, jenbe by Rainer Polak, kora by Clemens Zobel and Manya Jordans, trumpet and harmonica by Kabiné Touré, guitar by Namankoumba Kouyaté and Eric Charry, and vocals by Aissatou Cissoko.
Panelists and discussants at the Third International Conference on Mande Studies: Caroline Angenent, Ralph Austen, Abdoulie Bayo, Rogier Bedaux, Stephen Belcher, Saskia Brand, Anneke Breedveld, Sarah Brett-Smith, Stephen Bulman, Seydou Camara, Eric Charry, Priscilla Colt, David Conrad, Youssouf Diallo, José da Silva Horta, Mirjam de Bruijn, Ferdinand de Jong, Mamadi Dembele, Lucy Duran, John Hanson, Eugenia Herbert, Eric Huysecom, Jan Jansen, John Johnson, Lansiné Kaba, Raymond Kastenholz, Cheik M. Chérif Keita, Maghan Keita, Lilyan Kesteloot, Yacouba Konaté, Namankoumba Kouyaté, Frederick Lamp, Dierk Lange, Nehemia Levtzion, Barbara Lewis, Kevin MacDonald, Peter Mark, Pekka Masonen, Anne Mayor, Roderick McIntosh, B. Marie Perinbam, Rainer Polak, Michael Schlottner, Annette Schmidt, Halassy Sidibé, Tal Tamari, Berend Timmer, Tereba Togola, Jeanne Toungara, Walter van Beek, Diderik van der Waals, Han van Dijk, Ed van Hoven, Valentin Vydrin, Peter Weil, Clemens Zobel (for paper titles see MANSA Newsletter 27, 1995: 1-3).

Symposium on Democracy and Development in Mali: Michigan State University 1998

MANSA's most distinguished members (since they joined in 1988) are President Alpha Oumar Konaré and first lady Adam Ba Konaré of the Republic of Mali. On May 8, 1998, Michigan State University presented President Konaré with an honorary doctorate. The following day in honor of their visit, the symposium “Democracy and Development in Mali” was held at the MSU International Center. The symposium's first speaker was another MANSA member, the U.S. Ambassador to Mali, David Rawson, who drew a warm response from the Malian delegation by including some remarks in Bamanankan.

President Konaré responded by affirming Ambassador Rawson's extraordinary rapport with Mali, and he went on to acknowledge the role of the Mande Studies Association:

“You have just demonstrated that you are not only the U.S. Ambassador to Mali, but also a Malian Ambassador to the U.S. You have understood this country so much and have shared so much with us. It is not our friends here, from the Mande organization, from MANSA, who will prove me wrong on that. They are many that I see here. To all of them I would like to express my deep respect. For they have surely contributed to the knowledge of Mali, and bringing Mali and the U.S. closer. They have contributed to the breaking of artificial barriers that could have existed.”

Two of the three panels at the symposium were made up almost entirely of MANSA members. The panel “Perspectives on History and Culture” included Adam Ba Konaré, David Robinson, Maria Grosz-Ngaté, John Hanson, Cheick Mohamed Cherif Keita, Roderick McIntosh and David Conrad. The panel “Perspectives on Political Innovation” included David Rawson, Barbara Lewis, Andrew Clark and Kassim Koné. Tim Geysbeek also attended (MANSA Newsletter 38, 1998: 6-7).

Fourth International Conference on Mande Studies: Serrekunda, The Gambia 1998

The 1995 conference at Leiden was such a success that in June of the same year in London, colleagues from SOAS were tentatively suggesting to the MANSA President several ideas for another international conference, this time to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the 1972 Conference on Manding Studies (MANSA Newsletter 28, 1995: 2). At the next MANSA meeting (Orlando, 1995), members were open to the idea of another international meeting and to commemorating the SOAS conference, but they expressed the preference to meet again on African soil. Abdoulie Bayo and Patience Sonko-Godwin of the National Council for Arts and Culture in  Banjul were persistent in their requests that The Gambia be considered (MANSA Newsletter 29, 1995-96: 1-2). Subsequently, favorable reports on The Gambia as a conference location were submitted by Berend Timmer and Donald Wright, and the organization decided on that country for the next international conference (MANSA Newsletter 31, 1996: 1).

The Fourth International Conference on Mande Studies was held at the Senegambia Beach Hotel in Serrekunda, The Gambia, 13-17 June, 1998. The general theme was “Historical Moments and Social Idiosyncrasies: Culture, Agency and Causality in the Mande World.” Co-organizers Lucy Duran and David Conrad worked in cooperation with the National Council for Arts and Culture, Research and Documentation Division in Banjul. Funding for the participation of African and some other colleagues was provided by the Embassies of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Abidjan and Dakar, by the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (thanks to Joe Tainter), and by two anonymous benefactors. Other expenses were paid for by a generous contribution from Stephan Bühnen's Bremer Stiftung für Kultur und Sozialanthropologie (formerly the Bremer Stiftung für Geschichte).

The conference Keynote Speaker was Sidia Jatta, Gambian National Assembly MP for Wulli, Upper River Division (for the text of his speech see MANSA Newsletter 38, 1998: 7-8). There were thirteen panels at this meeting, featuring sixty-five presentations. The formal sessions concluded with an open forum moderated by Nehemia Levtzion, “The 1972 Manding Conference at SOAS and Mande Studies Today: 26 Years On.” Highlighting our banquet on the final evening was a concert of Mandinka kora music by the two famous Gambian musicians Dembo Konté and Kausu Kouyaté. The music was organized by Lucy Duran in commemoration of the 1972 SOAS Conference on Manding Studies.

Panelists and discussants at the Fourth International Conference on Mande Studies: Mary Jo Arnoldi, Ralph Austen, Stephen Belcher, Alice Bellagamba, Hamady Bokoum, Saskia Brand, Liam Buckly, Stephan Bühnen, Seydou Camara, Christine Nimaga Ceesay, Andrew Clark, David Conrad, José da Silva Horta,  Mirjam de Bruijn, Ferdinand de Jong, Rosa de Jorio, Ariane DeLuz, Eduardo Costa Dias, Ba Diakité, Ahmadu Doumbia, Gérard Dumestre, Lucy Duran, Claude Fay, Edda Fields, Paul Folmer, Barbara Frank, Maria Grosz-Ngaté, Musa Hakim, Eugenia Herbert, Barbara Hoffman, Allen Howard, Aly Gilbert Iffono, Jan Jansen, Marloes Janson, Manya Jordans, John Kertzer, Lilyan Kesteloot, Martin Klein, Dolores Koenig, Yacouba Konaté, Kassim Koné, Kirsten Langeveld, Marie Nathalie LeBlanc, Nehemia Levtzion, Gregory Mann, Peter Mark, Roderick McIntosh, Patrick McNaughton, Mohamed Saïdou N'Daou, Katrin Pfeiffer, Konstantin Pozdniakov, Dorothea Schulz, Joe Tainter, Robert Vernet, Valentin Vydrine, Stephen Wooten, Donald Wright, Clemens Zobel.

Fifth International Conference on Mande Studies: Leiden, The Netherlands 2002

The Fifth International Conference on Mande Studies was held at the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde in Leiden, The Netherlands, 17-21 June, 2002. Co-organized by Jan Jansen and David Conrad, MANSA received substantial support from Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde; Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Research; Research School of Asian,African and Amerindian Studies (CNWS); African Studies Centre, Leiden; Leids Universiteitsfonds; Brill Publishers; Bremer Stiftung für Sozialantropologische Forschung. In addition, many individual members made generous donations toward the sponsorship of African colleagues to attend the conference. A total of eleven African colleagues (one from Gambia, five from Guinea, and five from Mali) were fully funded through the combined efforts of Dutch agencies and MANSA donors, with some extra help from the MANSA treasury. Two other West African colleagues working in Europe received partial funding. The meeting included twenty panels on which eighty-eight papers were presented. A highlight of this conference was a party sponsored by Brill Publishers at a beautiful urban park café, De Leidse Hout. The entertainment was provided by the bala music of Namankoumba Kouyaté and his son Jelimori, with vocals by Aisha Kouyaté.

Panelists and discussants at the Fifth International Conference on Mande Studies: Noemie Arazi, Mary Jo Arnoldi, Ralph Austen, Maladho Baldé, Ishmael Barry, Rogier Bedaux, Stephen Belcher, Alice Bellagamba, Catherine Bogosian, Dinie Bouman, Anneke Breedveld, Louis Brenner, Sarah Brett-Smith, Pierre Boilley, Françoise Bourdarias, Herbert Braun, Brahima Camara, Samou Camara, Seydou Camara, Maria Luisa Ciminelli, Victoria Coifman, David Conrad, Marie-Yvonne Curtis, Mirjam de Bruijn, Rosa De Jorio, Paulo F. de Moraes Farias, Ariane Deluz, Boubacar Diaby, Bah Diakité, Brahima Diakon, Mamadou Dian Cherif Diallo, Mamadou Diawara, Isaie Dougnon, Gérard Dumestre, Claude Fay, Edda Fields, Henrike Florusbosch, Dauda Gary, Cornelia Giesing, Odile Goerg, Maria Grosz-Ngaté, Sten Hagberg, Thomas Hale, Walter Hawthorne, Joseph Hellweg, Christian  Højbjerg, Barbara Hoffman, Nicholas Hopkins, Allen Howard, Dmitry Idiatov, Shigeko Izumi, Jan Jansen, Marloes Janson, John Johnson, James Jones, Bouréma Kansaye, Daouda Keita, Martin Klein, Dolores Koenig, Doulaye Konaté, Félix Koné, Kassim Koné, Namakoumba Kouyaté, Fredrick Lamp, Kirsten Langeveld, Friederike Luepke, Barbara Lewis, Carlos Lopes, Tevor Marchand, Peter Mark, Roderick McIntosh, Patrick McNaughton, Marie Miran, Vittorio Morabita, Cristiana Panella, Mojca Piskor, Claudia Roth, Michael Rowlands, Mohamed Saïdou N'Daou, Bala Saho, Klena Sanogo, Annette Schmidt, Ingse Skattum, David Skinner, Tal Tamari, Jeanne Toungara, Aboubacar Touré, Walter Van Beek, Monica van Beusecom, Han van Dijk, Kristina Van Dyke, Valentin Vydrine, Peter Weil, Stephen Wooten, Donald Wright, Clemens Zobel (for details see MANSA Newsletter 50, 2002: 1-3.

Sixth International Conference on Mande Studies: Conakry and Kankan, Guinea 2005

The Sixth International Conference on Mande Studies was held in Conakry and Kankan, Guinea June 20-26, 2005. The general theme was “Transnational Identities in the Mande World: Historical Dimensions and Contemporary Strategies.” The conference received thorough press and television coverage, including a televised interview at RTG in Conakry with Djibril Tamsir Niane, Kassim Koné, Mohamed Saïdou N'Daou, Louise Bedichek, and David Conrad. Generous donations by eleven MANSA members funded five West African colleagues to attend the conference (one from Burkina Faso and four from Mali). Another generous donation along with help from the MANSA treasury funded the Sunjata mural in the library reading room at the University of Kankan. A U.S. Government grant to MANSA for travel insurance was arranged by Louise Bedichek, Directrice of the Centre Américain.

The Conakry segment co-organized by Mohamed Saïdou N'Daou, and David Conrad took place at the Novotel, 20-22 June, and the opening session featured Djibril Tamsir Niane as the keynote speaker. Over the two days of sessions, twenty-nine papers were presented on nine panels. Highlights included a visit to the Musée National de Guinée for the Niani Archeological Exhibit hosted by the Director Sory Kaba, a reception at the Centre Americain hosted by Louise Bedichek, and a hotel banquet the final night in Conakry.

The Kankan segment, organized by David Conrad, Stephen Belcher, and Kabiné Oularé was held at the University of Kankan and hosted by Seydouba Camara, Recteur de l'Université, 24-26 June. In two days of sessions at the university, twenty-four papers were presented on eight panels, bringing the total for the entire conference to fifty-three papers on seventeen panels. While the sessions were being held in the reading room of the university library, Mohamed Chejan Kromah and his assistant Sagno worked on a fourteen-panel mural of scenes from the Sunjata epic commissioned by MANSA, which they finished in the weeks following the conference. Highlights of the Kankan segment included music on the first evening by the Mamaya singers of Kankan and by Troupe Takoura with dundunba, (both organized by Kabiné Oularé and Stephen Belcher) on the second evening by Baro Troupe Artistique: So Foli (organized by D.T. Niane & directed by Camio Camara), and on the third evening by the Balafolaw and Dancers of Niagassola (organized by Namankoumba Kouyaté), and a concert by Kasse Mady Diabaté, Lanfia Diabaté, and Fantamady Kouyaté (organized by Lucy Duran). There was a final banquet at the Uni-Hotel compound hosted by the Recteur, Seydouba Camara.
Panelists and speakers at the Sixth International Conference on Mande Studies: Noemi Arazi, Mary Jo Arnoldi, Laura Arntson, Ralph Austen, Alpha Ba, Wenda Bauchspies, Louise Bedichek, Stephen Belcher, Catherine Bogosian, Manuel Braga, Sekou Décazy Camara, Seydou Camara, Seydouba Camara, Sidafa Camara, Maria Luisa Ciminelli, Mamadou Cissé, Victoria Bomba Coifman, Ibrahima Sory Condé, David Conrad, Marie Yvonne Curtis, Ariane Deluz, Oumou Diaby-Kassamba, Diakaria Diakité, Eduardo Costa Dias, Anne Doquet,  Lucy Duran, Yamusa Fané, Edda Fields, Mori Saïdou Fofana,  Barbara Frank, Tim Geysbeek, Ferial Ghazoul, Sten Hagberg, Musa Abdul Hakim, Christian Højbjerg, Nicholas Hopkins, José da Silva Horta, Sory Kaba, Fatoumata Keita, Abass Keita, Mohamed Lamine Keita, Martin Klein, Foster Siba Koivogui, Kassim Koné, Facely Kourouma, Namankoumba Kouyaté, Mohamed Chejan Kromah, Nienke Muurling, Mohamed Saïdou N'Daou, Djibril Tamsir Niane, Emily Osborn, Elizabeth den Otter, Kabiné Oularé, Elena Perekhvalskaya, Caroline Robion-Brunner,  Rachel Schneller, Ingse Skattum, Fodé Salifou Soumah, Tal Tamari, Aboubacar Touré, Simon Toulou, Jeanne Maddox Toungara, Abou Traoréé,;k&& Wouter van Beek, Kristina Van Dyke, Valentin Vydrine, Donald Wright. (for paper titles see MANSA Newsletter 57, 2005: 1-5).

MANSA Publications

MANSA Newsletter: The organization's newsletter reached its fifty-eighth issue in the spring of 2006. In addition to being received by all members of the organization, MANSA Newsletter is collected by the following libraries:
The Africana Library, Indiana University
The Goldwater Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Graduate Library Africana Collection, University of Wisconsin
The Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University
The Hoover Institution Library, Stanford University
The Library of Congress
The National Museum of African Art Library, Smithsonian Institution
The New York Public Library
The School of Oriental and African Studies Library, University of London
The Sterling Memorial Library Africana Collection, Yale University
The University Library Africana Collection, University of Illinois

Mande Studies: This is a refereed journal open to submissions on any subject involving the Mande peoples and their neighbors.

Major Publications Resulting from MANSA-Sponsored Conference Panels and other Activities:

Each year MANSA-members publish significant numbers of articles and books. Papers presented at ASA meetings, international conferences on Mande studies, and many other conferences the world over, eventually appear as articles in a wide range of scholarly journals. But it can be noted here that several edited volumes are the direct result of members' presentations at various meetings and conferences since MANSA's founding in 1986.

At the annual meetings of the African Studies Association in Chicago (1988) and Atlanta (1989), several panels addressed issues concerning the roles of artisans and oral traditionists in the Mande social system. These resulted in the first MANSA-generated book, edited by David Conrad and Barbara Frank, Status and Identity in West Africa: Nyamakalaw of Mande  (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1995).

Among the themes engaging panelists at the Third International Conference on Mande Studies in Leiden were matters involving the consequences of intense step-brother rivalry in Mande society known as fadenya. The result was a volume edited by Jan Jansen and Clemens Zobel, The Younger Brother in Mande: Kinship and Politics in West Africa (Leiden: Research School CNWS, 1996).

Also featured at the Leiden conference was a round-table organized by the anthropological team of Mirjam de Bruijn and Han van Dijk. Desiring to increase the accuracy of perspectives on relations between Mande and Fulbe peoples, de Bruijn and van Dijk addressed a topic that had already engaged the interest of MANSA members as early as their fourth annual meeting (Atlanta, 1989). When asked to suggest panel topics for the following year's ASA meeting, David Robinson suggested “Mande/Fula Relations or, 'The Fula Can't be Trusted,'” whereupon Charles Bird promptly replied with “Why Four Bamana Can't Lead a Cow” (MANSA Newsletter 10, 1989: 2). Such traditional rivalries are among the topics discussed in Mirjam de Bruijn & Han van Dijk (eds.), Peuls et Mandingues: Dialectique des constructions identitaires (Leiden: Afrika-Studiecentrum and Paris: Editions Karthala, 1997).

Ralph Austen's “Sunjata Epic Conference” at Northwestern University in 1992 focused on the epic tradition that describes legendary people and events of the Mali empire, providing a centuries-old framework for Mande identity and cultural values. The resulting volume edited by Austen is In Search of Sunjata: The Mande Epic as History, Literature and Performance (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999).

In recent years, so many scholars have been drawn to southern Mali to conduct ethnographic research southwest of Bamako, that one of them, Jan Jansen, was inspired to assemble a collection of fourteen essays, all by MANSA members, to provide background reading on the culture, history, and social-political organization of the region that includes Bamako, Kangaba, Kourémalé, Naréna, Siby, and the eastern part of the “Monts Manding”: Mande-Manding: Background Reading for Ethnographic Research in the Region South of Bamako (Leiden: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology Leiden University, 2004).

The Fifth International Conference on Mande Studies for which we again convened in Leiden, included a two-part panel chaired by Stephen Wooten and Jan Jansen, “Wari Matters: Meanings and Modalities of Money in the Mande World.” This led to a volume edited by Stephen Wooten, Wari Matters: Ethnographic Explorations of Money in the Mande World (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2005).

Doctoral Dissertations

The Mande Studies Association acknowledges the accomplishments of scholars who finish their doctoral dissertations while members of our organization:

1988. Barbara Frank, “Mande Leatherworking: A Study of Style, Technology and Identity.” Department of Art History, Indiana University.

1990. Stephen Bulman, “Interpreting Sunjata: A Comparative Analysis and Exegesis of the Malinke Epic.” History Department, Centre of West African Studies, University of Birmingham, England.

1990. Andrew Clark, “Economy and Society in the Upper Niger Valley, 1850-1920.” Department of History, Michigan State University.

1990. Barbara Hoffman, “The Power of Speech: Language and Social Status Among Mande Griots and Nobles.” Department of Anthropology, Indiana University.

1992. Eric Charry, “Musical Thought, History, and Practice Among the Mande of West Africa.” Department of Music, Princeton University.

1994. Stephan Büehnen, “Geschichte der Bainunk und Kasanga.” Geography Department, Justus-Liebig Universitaet, Giessen, Germany.

1995. Anneke Breedveld, “Form and Meaning in Fulfulde, a Morphonological Study of Maasinankoore.” Research School CNWS, Leiden University.

1995. Mirjam de Bruijn and Han van Dijk, “Arid Ways, Cultural Understandings of Insecurity in  Fulbe Society, Central Mali.” Utrecht University and Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands

1995. Jan Jansen, “De draaiende put - een studie naar de relatie tussen het Sunjata-epos en de samenleving in de Haut-Niger (Mali).” Research School CNWS, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden.

1995. James Jones, “The Impact of the Dakar-Niger Railway on the Middle Niger Valley.” History Department, University of  Delaware.

1995. Dianne White Oyler, “For 'All Those Who Say N'ko': N'ko Literacy and Mande Cultural Nationalism in the Republic of Guinea.” Department of History, University of Florida.

1995. Eric Silla, “People are not the same: Leprosy, identity, and community in colonial and post-colonial Mali.” Department of History, Northwestern University.

1995. Eduard van Hoven, “L'oncle maternel est roi: la formation d'alliances hiérarchiques chez les Mandingues du Wuli (Sénégal).” Research School CNWS, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, The Netherlands.

1996. Rosa De Jorio. “Women's Political Organizations in Urban Mali (West Africa).” Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois.

1996. Kassim Koné, “Bamana Verbal Art: An Ethnographic Study of Proverbs.” Department of Anthropology, Indiana University.

1996. Dorothea Schulz. “Praise in Times of Disenchantment: Griots, Radios, and the Politics of Communication in Mali.” Department of Anthropology, Yale University.

1996. Julianne Short. "Musokorobaya: Practice, Embodiment, Transition, and Agency in the lives of Senior Bamana Women of Mali." Department of Anthropology, Indiana University.

1997. Alice Bellagamba. “Representations of the Past in a Gambian Town.” Department of Anthropology, Archaeology, and Geographical Sciences, University of Torino, Italy.

1997. Sabine Luning. “Het binnenhalen van de oogst - Ritueel en samenleving in Maane, Burkina  Faso” (“Collecting the Harvest - Ritual and Society in Maane, Burkina Faso.”). Research School CNWS, Rijksuniversiteit Leiden, The Netherlands.

1997. Robert Newton. “The Epic Cassette: Technology, Tradition, and Imagination in Contemporary Bamana Segou.” Department of African Languages and Literature, University of Wisconsin.

1997. Benjamin Soares, “The Spiritual Economy of Nioro du Sahel: Islamic Discourses and Practices in a Malian Religious Center.” Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University.

1997. Karim Traore. “Le jeu et le serieux. Essai d'anthropologie litteraire sur la poesie epique des chasseurs du Mande (Afrique de l'Ouest).” School of Languages and Literatures, Bayreuth University, Germany.

1997. Stephen Wooten. “Gardens are for Cash, Grain is for Life: The Social Organization of Parallel Production Processes in a Rural Bamana Village (Mali).” Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

1998. Marie Nathalie LeBlanc, “Youth, Islam and Changing Identities in Bouake, Cote d'Ivoire.” Department of Anthropology. University College London, U.K.

1999. Daniel Reed. “Ge Performance: Masks, Music and Meaning Among the Dan of Côte d'Ivoire.” Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology, Indiana University.

2000. Tavy Aherne, “Gudhe Ngara: Exploring the Dynamics of the Creation, Use and Trade in Guinea's Indigo Cloths.” Department of Art History, Indiana University.

2000. Saskia Brand, “Mediating Means and Fate: A Socio-Political Analysis of Fertility and Demographic Change in Bamako, Mali.” Department of Anthropology, Leiden University.

2000. Emily Osborn. “Power, Authority, and Gender in Kankan-Baté, 1650-1920.”  Department of History, Stanford University.

2000. Berend Timmer, “Ieder mens wordt als moslim geboren: De sociale identeiten van de locale elite in Manduar (Gambia)” [“Every Human Being is Born a Muslim: The Social Identities of the Local Elite in Manduar (Gambia)”]. Leiden University.

2000. Clemens Zobel, “Confronting Otherness: Politics, Identity and History in the Manding Hills of Mali.” University of Vienna.

2001. Ferdinand de Jong, “Modern Secrets: The Power of Locality in Casamance, Senegal.” University of Amsterdam.

2001. Edda Fields, “Rice Farmers in the Rio Nunez Region: A Social History of Agricultural Technology and Identity in Coastal Guinea, ca. 2000 BCE to 1880 CE.” Department of History, University of Pennsylvania.

2001. William G. Moseley. “Sahelian 'White Gold' and Rural Poverty-Environment Interactions: The Political Ecology of Cotton Production, Environmental Change, and Household Food Economy in Mali.” Department of Geography, University of Georgia.

2002. José da Silva Horta. 2002. "A 'Guiné do Cabo Verde': produção textual e representações (1578-1684)" ["'Cape Verde Guinea': textual production and representations (1578-1684)"]. University of Lisbon.

2002. Tim Geysbeek. “History from the Musadu Epic: The Formation of Manding Power on the Southern Frontier of the Mali Empire.” Department of History, Michigan State University.

2002. Marloes Janson. “The Best Hand is the Hand that Always Gives: Griottes and their Profession in Eastern Gambia.” Research School CNWS, Leiden University.

2002. Michelle Johnson. “Being Mandinga, Being Muslim: Transnational Debates on Personhood and Religious Identity in Guinea-Bissau and Portugal.” Department of Anthropology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

2002. Baz Lecocq. “'That Desert is Our Country': Tuareg Rebellions and Competing Nationalisms in Contemporary Mali (1946-1996).” Research School, CNWS, Leiden University.

2002. Heather Maxwell. "Destiny's Divas: Wassolu Singing, Music Ideologies, and the Politics of Performance in Bamako, Mali." Indiana University.

2002. Cristiana Panella. “Les terres cuites de la discorde deterrement et ecoulement des terres cuites anthropomorphes du mali - les reseaux locaux” Research School CNWS, Leiden University

2003. Akare John Aden. “Anvils of Blood, Oaths of Iron: A History of Power and Association in the Komo Complex in the Western Sudan (West Africa), from the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present.” Department of History, Indiana University.

2003. Issiaka Diakité-Kaba. “La Dynamique du Griot dans l'oeuvre de Ahmadou Kourouma." Department of Francophone Studies, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

2003. Isaï Dougnon. “'Travail de Blanc, Travail de Noir': La migration paysanne du Pays Dogon à l'Office du Niger et au Ghana (1910-1980).” Universität Bayreuth.

2003. Ylva Hernlund. "Winnowing Culture: Negotiating Female 'Circumcision' in The Gambia." University of Washington.

2003. Kirsten Langeveld. Het geheim van het masker Maskerrituelen en genderrelaties in de Casamance, Senegal [“The secret of the mask Mask rituals and gender relations in the Casamance, Senegal”] Amsterdam: Rozenberg Publishers. Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Utrecht University

2003. Molly Roth. "Ma Parole S'Achète:  Money, Identity and Meaning in Malian Jeliya” Graduate Group in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania.

2005. Knut Graw. “The Emergence of the Present: A Phenomenological Study of Divination, Time, and the Subject in Senegal and Gambia.” Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

2005. Maria Sao Silva. “Islam et 'paganism':  identité et pratiques religieuses chez les Balanta Mané I Bejaa, en Guinée-Bissau” Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris

2005. Steven Thomson. “Children of the Village: Peace and Local Citizenship in a Multiethnic Gambian Community.” Department of Anthropology, Boston University.

2005. Kristina Van Dyke. "The Oral-Visual Nexus: Rethinking Visuality in Mali" Department of the History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University.

2005. Noemi Arazi. "Tracing History in Dia, in the Inland Niger Delta of Mali. Archaeology, Oral Traditions and Written Sources." Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

2006. Graeme Counsel. “Mande Popular Music and Cultural Policies in West Africa.” History Department, University of Melbourne, Australia.

2006. Agnes Kedzierska. “De la violence et de la maîtrise: habitus et idéologie cynégétiques mandingues.” INALCO /LLACAN CNRS, Paris.

2006. Joe Williams. "Transmitting the Mande Balafon: Performing Africa at Home and Abroad." Department of Ethnomusicology, University of Maryland.

2007. Bruce Whitehouse. "Exile Knows No Dignity:  African Transnational Migrants and the Anchoring of Identity." Department of Anthropology, Brown University.

In Memoriam

Like any large, extended family, MANSA has suffered its share of tragedy, periodically losing some of its members to accident, illness, and the passage of time. In May 1988, Maxime Samaké of the Institut des Sciences Humaines in Bamako, Mali drowned in Lake Manantali when his pirogue capsized (MANSA Newsletter 10: 5). MANSA suffered shocking losses two years in a row when on July 17, 1996, François Manchuelle died in the crash of TWA Flight 800 (MANSA Newsletter 32: 1), MANSA Vice-President B. Marie Perinbam died on June 21, 1997 at in Dakar, Senegal (MANSA Newsletter 35:1), and on October 13, 1997 former MANSA member Philip Ravenhill, died in Washington D.C. (MANSA Newsletter 36: 9 Founding member Nehemia Levtzion passed away on August 15, 2003 (MANSA Newsletter 52: 1, 53: 3-4), and most recently we were shocked by the loss of Tereba Togola who died in Bamako on November 7, 2005 (MANSA Newsletter 57: 1, 58: 1-4).

In recent years whenever the information was available, MANSA Newsletter has also lamented the deaths of many distinguished and beloved members of our host families in the Manden, without whose hospitality, wisdom, advice and encouragement we could never carry on our work:

Mouhamed Moustapha Kané of Dakar, Senegal: September 12, 1995 (MANSA Newsletter 28: 5).

Sanassey Kouyaté of Jelibakoro, Guinea: March 1995 (MANSA Newsletter 33: 5-6).

Sidiki Diabaté of Bansang and Bamako, Mali: September 29, 1996 (MANSA Newsletter 33: 6-7).

Al-Haji Bala Ba (Kelabala) Diabaté of Kela, Mali: April 19, 1997 (MANSA Newsletter 35: 7; 36: 7).

Yamudu Diabaté of Kela, Mali: October 18, 1997 (MANSA Newsletter 36: 7-8).

Djanka Tassey Condé of Fadama, Guinea: October 10, 1997 (MANSA Newsletter 36: 8-9).

Fadjimba Kouyaté of Niagassola, Guinea: 1998 (MANSA Newsletter 38: 11).

Almamy Maliki Yettara of Bamako, Mali: December 6, 1998 (MANSA Newsletter 39: 3-4).

Fata Bakari Kromah of Macenta, Guinea: February 19, 1999 (MANSA Newsletter 40: 2-3)

Mama Camara of Kankan, Guinea: 2003 (MANSA Newsletter 54: 4-5)