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August 04 , 2009

The Lesser Gods of the Sahara

Social Change and Indigenous Rights


The northern Tuareg (the Tuareg of Algeria) - the nomadic, blue-veiled warlords of the Central Sahara - were finally defeated militarily by the French at the battle of Tit in 1902. Some sixty years later, following Algerian independence in 1962, they were visited by a young English anthropologist, Jeremy Keenan. During the course of seven years, Keenan studied their way of life, the social, political and economic changes that had taken place in their society since traditional, pre-colonial times, and their resistance and adaptation to the modernising forces of the new Algerian state. In 1999, following eight years during which Algeria's Tuareg were effectively isolated from the outside world as a result of Algeria's political crisis, Keenan returned to visit them once again. Following a further four years of study, he has written a series of eight essays that capture the key changes that have occurred amongst Algeria's Tuareg in the forty years since independence.

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