SENKU-seminar med Tone Sommerfelt
On the ‘oneness’ of humankind: Competing appeals to hospitality and equality in rural Gambia.
Photo: Tone Sommerfelt.
This paper takes religious ‘visitations’ (siyaare), or pilgrimage, among rural Wolof in the Gambia as an ethnographic vantage point to explore appeals to the ‘oneness’ of humankind. While some argue these ceremonies are a hallmark of Senegalese urban Sufism, I explore how they are increasingly organised and communicated through social media to attract guests and strangers to the Gambian countryside.
The sensibilities and virtues articulated with reference to such ‘visitations’ have been explored in the anthropology of cosmopolitanism. Meanwhile, this paper investigates how multiple and divergent appeals to such values and virtues enable dialogue on consumption, modesty and recipes for rural living, and bring particular social forms and worlds into being. On this basis, my aim is to put African debates on humanity into direct dialogue with metropolitan theory, rather than limiting the discussion to how cosmopolitan theory can illuminate practices in a faraway place in West Africa, or providing an example of a vernacular or rural cosmopolitanism.
Tone Sommerfelt is a senior researcher at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), where she works on an ERC-funded research project entitled Future migration as present fact that investigates futural orientations related to migration in three West African countries. Based on long-term research experience from rural and urban Gambia, Tone has written extensively on kinship, mobility, religious change and moral politics.