Abstract

Alinesitoué Diatta pioneered forms of ritual practice that codified moral protest against French colonialism in Senegal. Her rise to prominence reflected conditions in which men left their homes as migrant laborers to earn cash to pay colonial taxes. Under the French, women prophets thus replaced their male predecessors. Rather than offer an ethical deontology of protest, Alinesitoué enacted a ritual critique. She forbade the use of non-Jola rice in sacrifices as well as the planting of peanuts as a cash crop, thereby confronting the economic demands of the French who championed the cultivation of peanuts for export. More importantly, she brought rain, equating the French presence with environmental catastrophe: a drought that had been plaguing Jola farmers. She was eventually arrested and exiled, but Robert Baum's study of her life and work resurrects her critique, revealing ritual as a sophisticated, innovative source for ethical discourse.

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