From the Sahara to the Sahel: Nomadic Voices, Cultures, and Literatures


February 8 - 9, 2024 

Dr. Martin Munro (FSU), Abdelatif Aguenini (FSU), Behi Beya (FSU), Joachim Adams (FSU)

Keynote Speakers
Mbarek Ould Beyrouk, Alioune Sow, Joseph Hellweg, Tara Deubel, Heide Castañeda, Brigitte Tsobgny, Abderrahmane Sissako

The symposium “From the Sahara to the Sahel: nomadic voices, cultures, and literatures” aims to shed light on the nomadic and inhabited cultures connected to the Sahara-Sahel region and to highlight the interactions of its peoples through art, culture, cinema, and literature. Designed in a pluridisciplinary idea, the symposium welcomes scholars, authors, and a filmmaker to share their insight, passion, and research about the connections, qualities, and challenges of the Sahara-Sahel region.

The Sahara and the Sahel were areas of cultural and human transhumance for centuries. The Sahara-Sahel region, which is neither uninhabitable nor barren, is known for its diversity and unpredictability. It is home to vast desert areas with dunes and drought, as well as volcanic mountains, salt flats, rocky plateaus, oasis villages, strange people, the Tuaregs, nomadic caravans, rebellious groups, etc. Before being thrown into a colonial system by Europe and transformed into a racialized border spanning from shore to shore, the Sahara-Sahel region was long a center of social and artistic transfer and epistemological interchange. People's cultures and lives are still being shaped today by the legacy of European colonization and the subsequent independence movements of Saharan and Sahel nations. The symposium explores the relationships and tensions among communities and tribes, such as the Tuareg (Kel Tamasheq), the Berbers, the Samburu, the Teda, the Fulani, the Wodaabe, and nations through history, languages, and politics.

Furthermore, the realities of global economic, political, and social issues like immigration, terrorism, and human rights affect how the populations that live in the Sahara-Sahel region interact with one another. Nevertheless, one must keep in mind that the Sahara and the Sahel are not characterized by a precarious design since, in the words of Mbarek Beyrouk, "chaque dune, chaque puits, chaque mont porte un nom, une histoire, la marque invisible d'une tribu, chaque arpent de sable est inscrit sur la carte des mémoires, des musiques, des poésies, des contes." Without ignoring the problems they face; it is crucial to learn more about the diverse peoples and cultures of the Sahara-Sahel region. The goal of the conference is to raise awareness of and gain insight into the challenges faced by peoples and cultures from and associated with the Sahara-Sahel region. By doing this, it upholds the diversity and aspirations of the Sahara-Sahel region.

Film to be screened at the Conference

  • Timbuktu, directed by Abderrahmane Sissako