Black Morocco: A History of Slavery, Race, and Islam chronicles the experiences, identity and achievements of enslaved black people in Morocco from the sixteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. Chouki El Hamel argues that we cannot rely solely on Islamic ideology as the key to explain social relations and particularly the history of black slavery in the Muslim world, for this viewpoint yields an inaccurate historical record of the people, institutions and social practices of slavery in Northwest Africa. El Hamel focuses on black Moroccans’ collective experience beginning with their enslavement to serve as the loyal army of the Sultan Isma’il. By the time the Sultan died in 1727, they had become a political force, making and unmaking rulers well into the nineteenth century. The emphasis on the political history of the black army is augmented by a close examination of the continuity of black Moroccan identity through the musical and cultural practices of the Gnawa.
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