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X-Posted from H-NET List for African History and Culture <H-AFRICA@H-NET.MSU.EDU> From: Colleen Vasconcellos <colleen@MAIL.H-NET.MSU.EDU> ------- REPLY 1 From: "Frederick Lamp" <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Mon, 5 May 2008 11:29:06 -0400 I would second this opinion advising caution on ethnonyms. Ethnonyms are almost always given by outsiders, not by the people they define. The people themselves frequently don't call themselves anything. One has to be outside the circle to see the circle. The people I study, the Baga, and their relatives, the Temne, were almost certainly named by each other: essentially meaning, respectively, the frontiersmen, and the establishment. Frequently, contemporary literature has taken to adopting a peoples term for "the people," especially in Native American ethnology, which is patently ridiculous. In Africa, we frequently say that ethnic groups are a colonial invention, and what is meant by this is not that these groups -- and especially languages -- didn't exist before, but that the people thought of themselves more locally, not as part of the grand inter-intelligible linguistic nation. It was the colonial ethnologists who determined where the boundaries lie, and what groups belong to what. The Bamana/Bambara argument lies in this context. It's a little like "the Dutch," who don't call themselves Dutch at all, but rather, "the lowlanders," which, itself, was probably a slightly pejorative term given by other Germanic speakers, who were named by the Romans, but today call themselves Deutsch -- but most of them called themselves and each other by tribal names, not Deutsch, until the late 19th century. -------- REPLY 2 From: Stephen Harmon [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 5:22 PM In response to the request to change Bambara to Banaman on Wikipedia, I'm o.k. with the change, but I wonder if the request is not overstating the urgency for this. I did historical research in Mali, mostly Bamako and Segu, in 1983-84, 1990-91 and most recently in 2005. The people call their language Bamanankan and themselves Bamananke, its true, but I don't recall anyone being too upset at the occasional use of 'Bambara.' Let's wait and see what the respondants from MANSA-L List say. They are the experts. Stephen Harmon