Home Institution

Georgetown University

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Senegal: National Identity and the Arts


For the past 40 years, Dakar has been the destination of Senegal’s massive rural exodus, with millions of rural villagers flocking to the city in search of work and education. The rural exodus has produced a unique multi-ethnic environment, where villagers, traditions, cultures, and languages from across the country converge. Ironically, therefore, Dakar’s landscape has been distinguished by the creation of an urban culture by a population of rural inhabitants. This paper examines the effects of urbanization on ethnic identity and affiliation, and further discusses the impact of Urban Wolof on personal identification among Dakar’s citizens. It then demonstrates how this multiethnic environment contributes to the creation of a de-ethnicized, urban identity. In so doing, this paper develops a framework for how modern identity is constructed and how it evolves according to place.


Demography, Population, and Ecology | Growth and Development | Human Geography | Place and Environment | Race and Ethnicity


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