Journal for Islamic Studies

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“We must all go to the Hangar”: Performing Bellah group membership in the refugee camp in Abala, Niger

Souleymane Diallo


This article examines how black male Tuareg, known as Bellah, assert their social identity by attending everyday informal social gatherings under a hangar in the refugee camp of Abala in southern Niger. What makes the hangar important to them is the discussion of themes labelling the free-born, ‘white’ Tuareg as evil people and as non-Muslims. Through labelling these others, the men who meet under the hangar seek to construct themselves as one homogenous community even though they are not. By drawing on the particular meanings that these men give to their everyday social gatherings, this article reflects on the hangar as a ‘setting of performance’ of Bellah group membership. The use of the notion of ‘setting of performance’ allows for an examination of the social context under the hangar as a moment that sets this group of Bellah men apart from other social groups.

AJOL African Journals Online