An “impossible” transmission: Youth religious memories in Guinea–Conakry


  • David Berliner

    1. Department of Anthropology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, William James Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138 and UniversitÉ Libre de Bruxelles, ChargÉ de Recherches du FNRS, Centre d'Anthropologie Culturelle, 44, avenue Jeanne, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
    Search for more papers by this author


Memory, persistence, and cultural transmission are hot topics in anthropology today. Contributing to an increasing anthropological interest in youth agency, in this article I invite readers to look at youth as a crucial site for understanding issues of religious memory and cultural transmission. In the past five decades, Bulongic people (Guinea–Conakry) have undergone significant religious changes caused by the introduction of Islam, which has led to the official disappearance of pre-Islamic rituals. In this article, I explore how young Bulongic remember a pre-Islamic past that they have never experienced. I argue that, to understand how they assimilate and perpetuate this religious heritage, one must examine the subtle processes of intergenerational transmission through which their memories are dynamically shaped.