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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.129
Kel Bamako: naming, the city, and transformations in Kel Tamasheq’s society
Kel Tamasheq, asa Tuareg, are a “traditionally nomadic” population, inhabiting the Saharan-Sahelian zone, and, while they have strong linguistic and cultural grounds, their society is extremely diversified. Their communal name literally means “those of the Tamasheq language”. The particle Kel can determine an identitarian (when it concerns names of socio-political conglomerates, traditionally referred to as tribes and fractions) or a geographical affiliation (to locate a group). More frequently the two overlap, with the former taking its name from the second. In the past 60 years, Kel Tamasheq have slowly approached the capital, Bamako, in the south of the country, with a late increase of these movements after the 2012 Kel Tamasheq’s led rebellion and the persisting insecurity in the North. Within this context, this paper wishes to explore a two-fold dynamic: on the one hand, how the city enters Kel Tamasheq’s social structures, where the Kel is then coupled with the name of the city, Kel Bamako, or, within the city, with the different neighbourhoods people inhabit. On the other hand, it explores how Kel Tamasheq negotiate, taking or rejecting, the general label Kel Bamako, underlining their continuous links to the North. The materiality of living and moving through Bamako, and in this case its influence on naming, mirrors changes in Kel Tamasheq’s society and politics, contextually, and the relevance of mobility and space in nomadic peoples relationships with the city, more generally.