Saharan Crossroads – Conferences

The first international conference, “Saharan Crossroads: Views from the North” was held in Tangier, Morocco in June 2009. It brought together thirty scholars and artists who reflected on the cultural and historical ties of the people of North and West Africa by way of trans-Saharan caravans and the development of common Saharan identities.

The second international conference, « Saharan Crossroads: Views from the South » was held in Niamey, Niger in July 2011. The conference counted over forty participants who presented papers tackling questions about shared intellectual, cultural and architectural traditions, as well as highlighting Niger’s historical role as a crossroads linking communities on both sides of the Sahara.

The third international conference « Saharan Crossroads: Views from the Desert-Edge », was held in Oran, Algeria in June 2014.  The theme of this conference is the circulation of ideas through manuscripts, print culture and new media. It is about the intellectual, religious and political currents sustained through exchanges among Africans connected by way of the Saharan caravan trade and other traffic.


Saharan Crossroads: Views from the Desert-Edge, WARA/AIMS conference. Oran, June 2014


crossroads coverThis conference is part of a series of activities organized by the West African Research Association (WARA) and the American Institute of Maghribi Studies (AIMS) aimed at strengthening the cultural, artistic and historical links among the peoples living within and across the Sahara Desert. Click here for the conference program.





Saharan Crossroads: Views from the South, AIMS/WARA Conference. Niamey, June 2011

Hainad Mahjoubi (Morocco) and Salim Khiat (Algeria) join musical traditions at Saharan Crossroads

The second Saharan Crossroads conference, Views from the South, highlighted the position of Niger as a hub of cultural and economic exchange between the populations of West and North Africa who share the Saharan space.  Some thirty-six scholars and artists hailing from Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, France, Belgium, and South Africa gathered in Niamey to reflect on these ancient and contemporary ties as they are manifest in architectural traditions, language and the written word, artistic and musical production, textiles, political relations, religion, trade, diplomacy, the role of women in society, and the legacies of colonialism and slavery. The program included presentations in Arabic, French, and English. View the full program of the Conference  here. Browse photos, and view a brief summary of the conference.


Saharan Crossroads: Views from the North, AIMS/WARA Conference Tangier, June 2009

aims_waraAfrica has traditionally been viewed through a bifocal lens in which the Sahara Desert has been perceived as an impenetrable barrier dividing the continent into the northern “white” and sub-Saharan “black” Africa. Despite trans-Saharan cultural contact spanning centuries, the conceptual divide separating North and sub-Saharan Africa remains strong. Countries to the north find themselves placed in Mediterranean, Islamic, and Middle Eastern studies with little consideration of cultural, historical, or artistic contact with sub-Saharan countries, which are often considered more authentically “African.”

For a complete program of the Conference, click here.

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