CALL FOR PAPERS: Panel Abstract for Saharan Crossroads: Views from the South

in Uncategorized
October 18th, 2010

Patterns in Circulation: Trans-Saharan Artisanry and Design
Conference sponsored by the West African Research Association and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (Niamey, Niger, July 8-10, 2011)

Artisanal traditions across the Saharan and Sahel regions bear the imprints of centuries of contact between North and sub-Saharan Africa fostered by caravan trade, travel, migration, Islamic schooling, European colonization, and other forms of exchange that have moved material goods across the desert. Drawing inspiration from the collection of the Tiksiwin Museum in Marrakech, which highlights the artistic continuities in trans-Saharan material culture, and active artisanship at the National Museum of Niger in Niamey, this panel focuses on the circulation and exchange of a range of goods produced by professional artisans. Some questions that will be examined include: How have artisans incorporated design elements and materials acquired through cross-regional contact? In what ways have changes in Saharan trade transformed relations between producers and consumers of artisanry? How are Saharan crafts being promoted and marketed outside the region today? Through an interdisciplinary examination of the historical, anthropological, and economic dimensions of artisanal production, the panel investigates the ongoing circulation of techniques, designs and uses of popular material culture across the Sahara and the social dynamics of the communities that produce it.

Areas of particular interest:
* historical and contemporary influences of artisanal styles between sub-Saharan and North Africa (in the production of metalwork, beads, woodwork, leather, cloth, couture, basketry, pottery, etc.)
* history and sociocultural practices of artisan communities
* gendered dimensions of artisanal production
* economics of artisan trades and trans-Saharan commerce
* transformations in materials, techniques or uses of artisanry

Please email a paper title and abstract of 200 words (in English or French) as an MS Word doc or pdf to Tara Deubel at: by October 20, 2010 for consideration.

NB: For selected participants, paper abstracts and a 2-pg. CV will be due to WARA/AIMS by email by Nov. 30, 2010 for consideration of the panel