Homework: Ibn Battuta in Mali

First things first: remember that if you have not signed up for your AP exams, tonight is your last chance before the deadline.  Please go to the North Cobb TotalRegistration portal in order to sign up now! 

Everybody good?  Good.

As to your homework tonight, please thoroughly read and annotate Ibn Battuta’s account of his travels in Mali– if you’ve lost your copy, you’ll find a digital version on the Unit Three materials page.

Ignore the questions at the bottom of page 64 (I’ve marked through them on your copy)– instead, I want you to focus on the discussion points below.  One point of caution, however: as you respond to these point, you are to avoid using the words ‘bias‘ or ‘biased.’  Those words don’t exist in AP World History.  Find another, more precise way of explaining what you mean.

1. What does Ibn Battuta find admirable about the people of Mali?

2. Many of Ibn Battuta’s concerns regarding Mali involve the freedoms and behaviors of women.  What do Ibn Battuta’s responses suggest about his cultural and social background?  Is Battuta’s reaction surprising, given his personal background?

3. Is Ibn Battuta’s account useful as a source when studying Mali?  What are the problems inherent in using texts written by people who are from outside of the culture about which they are writing?  What are the problems in relying ONLY on sources drawn from within a culture?

Normal commenting rules apply: one good comment that answer the question will receive a maximum of 95%, and a comment to a colleague’s post will result in a maximum of 100%.

We’ll be working heavily on analyzing primary sources over the next several weeks, so you can expect us to spend a good chunk  of time working on reading texts for content, evidence, and perspective.


87 thoughts on “Homework: Ibn Battuta in Mali

  1. Battuta admired how the people of Mali were so dedicated to their faith and how peaceful they were.

    Battua’s background from all the places he has traveled, he notices that Mali gives way more freedom to women than any other region he has visited and he is very surprised about it. His personal background must have been from a culture that didn’t give women such freedom, so that’s why he is surprised.

    Battuta’s accounts are valid because he was actually present during the Mali civilization was well and thriving, but the bad things about this that he has inside point of view of Mali, rather than an outside point of view.


  2. Interestingly, Ibn Battuta admires the dedication to Islam of the Mali people. He states that the people are “committed to learn by heart the sublime Koran,” and he concludes this as a good quality.

    In contrast to Ibn Battuta’s homeland, the freedoms of women in Mali are unheard of and very surprising. We can conclude that it was different from his traditional customs because in the story of him and the judge, the judge says to him,” The companionship of women with men in this country is proper and honorable: it does not inspire suspicion. Our women are not like the women of your country.” Ibn Battuta explains that he was shocked at this statement and immediately left the judge’s home.

    I think that Ibn Battuta’s works are plausible and factual enough to learn and study the post-classical Mali culture. However, he is looking at the society from a personal perspective and judging them based on their differences. Generally, when people are writing about cultures other than their own, they tend to exaggerate and depict foreign cultures as more strange or weird. However, sources drawn from people within the culture could exaggerate the good aspects of their culture and neglect the bad. They could make history more fascinating and interesting than they really are.


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