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Litigants and Households: African Disputes and Colonial Courts in the French Soudan, 1895-1912

Richard Roberts
Heinemann
2005

“Why did Africans bring their most intimate domestic disputes to the newly created native courts in the period after 1905? And what do these disputes tell us about everyday life and social change? To answer these questions, Richard Roberts uses all 2,062 civil disputes heard at the provincial level native courts for four districts between 1905 and 1912.

He concludes that changes in social relations occurring at a time of accelerated change associated with colonial conquest and the end of slavery interacted with institutional changes, namely the creation of the new native courts, to produce discernible patterns of litigation.

Moreover, these patterns of litigation point to ‘trouble spots’ in African society, thus providing a lens into the most ordinary aspects of daily life.” -- from the publisher