The Undefining of Oral Tradition

  • Cohen D
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This paper points to flaws in formalist definitions of "oral tradition" which have the capacity to affect reconstructions of the African past. Historical knowledge in regions such as Busoga, Uganda, is not lodged in a distinctive series of texts read as "oral tradition" but is engaged in and derives from the everyday critical, lively intelligence which surrounds status, activities, gestures, and speech. Reflections on the organization of knowledge of past in Busoga may help scholars overcome a rigidity of thinking about the pasts of oral societies which the attempts to formalize definitions of oral tradition have produced.

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  • David William Cohen

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