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The Politics of Religious Change on the Upper Guinea Coast
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About the Author

Ramon Sarro is Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon. He read social anthropology at University College London PhD 1999). In 2000-2002 he was the Ioma Evans-Pritchard Research Fellow at Saint Anne's College, Oxford. Since 1992 he has conducted extensive field research in Guinea. His other works include Learning Religion: Anthropological Approaches (with David Berliner). He is based at the Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon, where he leads an EU project on African Christianities in Europe.

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A great strength of the monograph is Sarro's placement of the iconoclastic movement in an especially broad historical context, from precolonial times through 2007, which allows him to propose several reworkings of typical assumptions about historical ruptures and continuities! Sarro's close attention to how historical actors grappled with religious and political dilemmas, often in unexpected or non- transparent ways, makes his monograph unique, compelling to read, and broadly significant. -- Karin Smid, University ofTexas at Austin, Islamic Africa Under the successive mid-twentieth century urgings of Muslim iconoclasm and state socialism, it seems as if some coastal Baga of Guinea became willing accomplices in the destruction of their own revered customs, chiefly authorities, and material culture. The great achievement of Ramon Sarro's nuanced ethnography is to reveal the truth of this view of the past while simultaneously exploring its limitations, seen from contemporary Guinea in which Baga ethnicity and custom are re-emerging as contested territories. Beyond this specific instance, Sarro demonstrates why modernizing processes have been fractured, fractious and fracturing in the experience of African people. -- Richard Fardon This is a wonderfully subtle account of social change among the Baga-speaking people of coastal Guinea, centred on dance and iconoclasm as modes of religious and inter-generational contestation. Broad in scope, erudite, and yet elegant in presentation, Sarro's book has wide significance for debates about conflict as performance, while being a pleasure to read. -- Paul Richards Ramon Sarro's book on religious and political changes among the Baga of Guinea is a richly documented contribution to the anthropology of modernity... [His] historical ethnography attests to an impressive historical scholarship written with strong empathy... This book is a standing contribution to the historical and cultural knowledge of the Upper Guinea Coast and will be fully acknowledged by coming generations of regional scholars. -- CHRISTIAN HA JBJERG, Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale A great strength of the monograph is Sarro's placement of the iconoclastic movement in an especially broad historical context, from precolonial times through 2007, which allows him to propose several reworkings of typical assumptions about historical ruptures and continuities! Sarro's close attention to how historical actors grappled with religious and political dilemmas, often in unexpected or non- transparent ways, makes his monograph unique, compelling to read, and broadly significant. Under the successive mid-twentieth century urgings of Muslim iconoclasm and state socialism, it seems as if some coastal Baga of Guinea became willing accomplices in the destruction of their own revered customs, chiefly authorities, and material culture. The great achievement of Ramon Sarro's nuanced ethnography is to reveal the truth of this view of the past while simultaneously exploring its limitations, seen from contemporary Guinea in which Baga ethnicity and custom are re-emerging as contested territories. Beyond this specific instance, Sarro demonstrates why modernizing processes have been fractured, fractious and fracturing in the experience of African people. This is a wonderfully subtle account of social change among the Baga-speaking people of coastal Guinea, centred on dance and iconoclasm as modes of religious and inter-generational contestation. Broad in scope, erudite, and yet elegant in presentation, Sarro's book has wide significance for debates about conflict as performance, while being a pleasure to read. Ramon Sarro's book on religious and political changes among the Baga of Guinea is a richly documented contribution to the anthropology of modernity... [His] historical ethnography attests to an impressive historical scholarship written with strong empathy... This book is a standing contribution to the historical and cultural knowledge of the Upper Guinea Coast and will be fully acknowledged by coming generations of regional scholars.

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