Jeremy Dell

Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in the Humanities

20122013 Forum on Peripheries

Jeremy Dell


The Varieties of Reading Experience: Towards a History of Textual Practice in the Western Sahel

This project examines the textual practices of a region rarely associated with literacy: the Western Sahel. Its goals are twofold: 1) a history of reading and writing in northern Mali, 2) an account of contemporary manuscript preservation in the city of Timbuktu. Through ethnographic and archival research, it will explore how textual practice has contributed to novels forms of self-fashioning, the construction and circulation of Islamic knowledge, and the dissemination consolidation of territory in the Republic of Mali. What possibilities did textual practice open and foreclose as social hierarchies were challenged across the twentieth century? Bringing this history to the present, it will also examine current preservation practices, a North-South and Pan-African collaboration.