Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Conference papers

« Ils ont combattu beaucoup de Zarma, mais cela je ne vous le dirai pas… » : Réflexions autour des processus mémoriels

Abstract : I was once offered by a jasare — a genealogist and historian griot — to meet the descendants of a great warrior; he wanted to tell me the former’s story and glorious feats on Ghanaian soil. Both the jasare and I were astonished to find out that the men of that lineage didn’t know this ancestor, no matter how famous he was. Only those who had moved to Ghana had heard his name and knew he came from their actual village. Both my survey of the jasare in the songhay-zarma region of Niger and that peculiar case where transmission of memory seems lacking, have led me to be deeply concerned about the issue of memory ; therefore, I wish to develop four different aspects ; though, what is at stakes here goes far beyond Zarma society. 1)What kind of learning process do the jasare(s) provide for? I shall first describe the memory process of recalling ancestors and narratives, starting from my own learning and jasare metadiscourse. Then I shall deal with the role and experiences of the jasare. Finally, I will link these practices and representations to research in the field of psychology and cognitive anthropology on « semantic memory » and « autobiographical memory ». 2)Putting in perspective this learning process, situated speaking (enunciation) shows how central the genealogical list is. If it forms a mnemonic basis for the jasare, its role is especially to spot a person out of the crowd, vouching him with historic importance by admitting him into a lineage, but above all into History. How then, shall omissions be considered? Either circumstantial or systematic, unwilling or deliberate, they are definitely meaningful; and when noticed, they are construed. Nevertheless, only the jasare’s metadiscourse lets us know. Is it the jasare’s agency that has to be understood here? 3)What does it mean for a dominating social group, as M. Bloch (1995) puts it, « to delegate its historic memory of the past » and its public enunciation to an inferior social group such as the jasare, considering the former cannot claim to power? According to M. Maurice Halbwachs (1925) memorization occurs in social environments. But when a society is changing, its environment does the same ; and what was considered essential to remember has become meaningless and can create conflict ; similarly to what is happening to the jasare whose presence during the ceremonies is disputed. Thus, how shall we as anthropologists question these changes ?
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Sandra Bornand <>
Submitted on : Thursday, March 9, 2017 - 10:31:34 PM
Last modification on : Friday, March 27, 2020 - 4:04:40 AM


  • HAL Id : halshs-01486510, version 1



Sandra Bornand. « Ils ont combattu beaucoup de Zarma, mais cela je ne vous le dirai pas… » : Réflexions autour des processus mémoriels. Mémoire et souvenir en Afrique et dans la diaspora, ISOLA (International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa), May 2016, Gainesville, États-Unis. ⟨halshs-01486510⟩



Record views