Demystifying memories: the politics of cultural heritage in post-socialist Guinea
Ramon Sarró (University of Oxford)
Paper short abstract:
In coastal Guinea (West Africa), an iconoclastic Muslim movement in 1957 was followed by ‘campaigns of demystification’ by the Party-State to forbid religious activity (1958-1984). The paper analyses the memories of these campaigns and of the religious landscape against which they were addressed.
Paper long abstract:
Guinean citizens of West Africa have gone through processes of forceful, violent abandonment of many of their religious activities. Among Baga, a group of rice farmers particularly famous in colonial times for their visible ritual and material culture, an iconoclastic Muslim movement in 1957 was followed by the "campaigns of demystification" deployed by Sékou Touré and his Party-State to forbid religious activity (1958-1984). Today,Baga people keep vivid memories of both their religious past and of its violent destruction by Islam and by the State. These memories are today accompanied by the will to return to practices that were (supposedly) "demystified" by Sékou Touré, in an effort to "re-mystify" the religious landscape. In its turn, these new readings of peoples' past give rise to new forms of violence.