A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal
Authors: Allen F. Roberts (Professor of World Arts and Cultures, UCLA) and Mary Nooter Roberts (Professor of Culture and Performance, World Arts and Culture, UCLA)
Published: Friday, January 23, 2009
Drawing on the long history of Islamic arts in sub-Saharan Africa, A Saint in the City investigates in depth the vibrant and sophisticated arts of urban Senegal. Underscoring the interconnectedness of art and life, it insightfully penetrates the visual culture of the Mouride Way, a Sufi movement steeped in the mystical teachings of Sheikh Amadou Bamba (1853-1927). It focuses in particular on the ways in which sacred images "work" for people as powerful acts of devotion and prayer. The remarkable proliferation of arts in the city of Dakar, from bold street murals to virtuosic calligraphy and intricate, colorful glass paintings, attests to the transformative potency of images in Mouridism. This way of life, grounded in the dignity and sanctity of work as conveyed by the teachings of Amadou Bamba, is observed by over four million Senegalese—half the Muslim population in this small country—as well as by thousands more around the globe.
A Saint in the City brings together a range of artists-regardless of background, training, rootedness in the "traditional" medium, or style-who share a belief in the Mouride Way. The book boldly transgresses the boundaries normally enforced between the local and the global, fine art and popular art, the gallery and the street, the historical and the contemporary.
Winner of the 2004 Herskovits Award from the African Studies Association
Winner of the 2004 Arnold Rubin Book Award at the ACASA (Arts Council of the African Studies Association) Triennial Symposium