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Advisor: Sonia Patten

Abstract

For people in urban environments, practices and beliefs allowing creation of supportive social relationships are important for dealing with economic and other insecurities. This paper examines roles of sinankuya, a kin-based joking relationship, in Bamako, Mali. I argue that people in Bamako use and negotiate practices and beliefs associated with sinankuya for practical purposes. Participant observation, ethnographic interviewing, and historical research were used to examine ways that Malians use this joking relationship to promote social cohesion, circumvent the power of the state, provide opportunities for economic gain, and preserve cultural histories and identities in a rapidly changing urban environment.

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