P 48

Saharan Connectivities

Panel abstract
Anthropologists, historians, or geographers have already pointed out the manifold connections inside and across the Sahara, linking groups, places, and regions one to another and shaping thus identities, social life, economy or culture. Not least, the intensifying globalization attributes increasing importance to Saharans and the Sahara on an international level. Such Saharan connectivities transcend materialized and imagined borders, go deeper than presumed orders and supposed obviousness. We can only understand them when ‘glancing behind’ political appearances and also
when questioning always anew conventional scholarly approaches.

Time: Saturday, 30/06/2018, 8.30 - 10.30 am
Venue: Hörsaalgebäude, HS 13

Tilman Musch (University of Bayreuth)
Dida Badi (University of Bayreuth)

Dida Badi (University of Bayreuth)
Thomas Hüsken (University of Bayreuth)
Emma McGlennen (John Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA)
Tilman Musch (University of Bayreuth)
Adamou Rabani (University of Tahoua, Niger)


Paper abstracts

Dida Badi
The Sahara as a Space of Creativity and Emancipation

By taking an historical approach, this paper discusses the emancipatory power of Saharan cultures and their creativity, which contributes to the development of the African continent. In fact, they generate a catalytic force which influences North-Africa and Subsaharan Africa and connects, thus, one to another.

Anja Fischer
The Connectivity of Remoteness or Living in the Saharan Ahnet Mountains

The Kel Ahnet, a ‘Tuareg’ group of nomadic pastoralists, lives in the hottest mountain area in the Sahara Desert. The Ahnet region (as large as Belgium) has never had any permanent settlements and has no infrastructure like streets, water supply, sewers, electrical grids, or telecommunication. Hence, the Ahnet region is considered to be one of the most remote and sparsely populated areas in the Sahara Desert. However, the Kel Ahnet people in South Algeria are well connected in and beyond Africa. Early anthropological approaches explored Saharan nomads as ‘isolated tribes in a marginal area’. People like the Kel Ahnet were considered to be ‘autarkic’ or ‘self-subsistent’. Khazanov explored the dependence of nomads on relations with the ‘outside world’. Subsequently, the research focused on the ‘interaction’ between nomadic and sedentary people. To sum up, my paper provides a ‘glance behind’ the local and global connectivity of the actual nomadic life in the Central Sahara Desert.

Thomas Hüsken
Political Orders in the Making: a Comparative Study of Emerging Forms of Political Organization from Libya to Northern Mali

The current political developments in Libya and northern Mali represent nothing less than the renegotiation of the post-colonial political order. The toppling of authoritarian regimes in Libya and the subsequent disintegration of the country in post-revolutionary camps and regions, as well as the continuing rebellion of the Tuareg in northern Mali accompanied by the rise of transnational Islamist and Jihadist forces, have led to the fragmentation of state structures, more heterogeneity in politics, and the emergence of non-state power groups which gain relevance on the complex political stage. While often propagating social and political alternatives to the Western state model, some of these groups seem to be, at least at times, intertwined with respective state structures. I propose to study processes of political orders in the making from local and trans-local perspectives. The current situation in Northwest Africa offers a unique opportunity for the observation and study of the renegotiation of the post-colonial political order, including strong contestations to the Western state model. I assume that ongoing processes of remaking political orders, particularly in Libya (and Mali), are strongly linked, without suggesting any kind of causality between them. The local continues to constitute the decisive arena for the making of political orders. The paper brings together three theoretical concepts and fields of research: heterarchy, (historical and present) connectivities in northwest Africa, and the importance of local actors/locality. The first concept, heterarchy, is a recent one, responding to the rapid development of political orders in Africa and elsewhere within the last twenty years. Heterarchy points at central traits of current political (state and non-state) orders, namely the mutable and unstable intertwining of state and non-state orders and the plurality of competing power groups. The concept of connectivity (across states and borders) is a newly re-discovered topic, perceiving state borders (and the Sahara Desert) not as barriers but as transitional spaces. It allows a better understanding of recent political developments and their historical roots. The concept local actors/locality is well rooted in political anthropology and political sociology. It underlines the importance of the local in negotiation processes and struggles over what political order to establish.

Emma McGlennen
Reproducing Trans-Saharan Geographies of the Sacred

Ritual pilgrimage (ziyaar) of Senegalese and other West Africans to Fès, Morocco, the site of the shrine of the founder of the Tijaniyya sufi brotherhood, has been a vital source of trans-Saharan diplomacy, economy, and religious exchange for centuries. Today, long established networks of Senegalese sufi pilgrims, traders, and students lend moral and material thickness to the Senegalese migrant community in Morocco, and are invoked in national discourse to substantiate Morocco’s hybrid ‘Africanité’ and the openness of ‘Moroccan Islam’ to cosmopolitan Sufi values. However, for Senegalese women dwelling as migrants in Morocco today, visits to the shrine are not necessarily the most important form that ziyaar takes. While the promise of pilgrimage is an important factor in how women justify, negotiate, finance, and envision their travels to Morocco, their own visits are often deferred while they ‘lijjenti’ (scrap together) small sums to send to family in Senegal, remittances which they encode as ‘pass’ for their family members’ own ziyaar to holy sites closer to home. Such material and symbolic exchanges reflect the complex forms of sponsorship, investment, and credit that go into women migrants’ multiply authored mobility, and are the means by which women maintain attachment to the ideals of pilgrimage, while signifying their ongoing value to their families and communities at home. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted over 18 months, this paper looks at how new generations of Senegalese migrant women insinuate themselves into, and thereby transform, historically male networks of sufi pilgrimage. Rather than attending to ‘official’ pilgrimage sites, rituals, and discourses of idealized transnational brotherhood, I focus on migrant women’s everyday lives and intimate economies, as sites of ethical and material action by which trans-Saharan geographies of mobility are being both reproduced and transformed.

Tilman Musch
Connectivities on the Road: Teda and Tuareg in the Tenere Desert

The road from Agadez to the Kawar was an ancient Tuareg caravan trading route. Since several decades, however, caravan trade is diminishing considerably, and now Tubu Teda drivers replaced the Tuareg. They succeeded in taking over the former Tuareg road by adapting their long-lasting experience of mobility to exigencies of modern road making, by shaping the road anew according to their own needs of secured travel, and by mastering the interactions with other travel and roadside communities.

Adamou Rabani
Pluralisme juridique et sécurité: connectivité entre systèmes juridiques au Sahara

L’espace sahélo-saharien est devenu de nos jours le centre de prédilection de divers mouvements de nature différente: terrorisme, trafic, migration. Sa situation géographique fait ressortir une diversité d’Etats et par conséquent de systèmes juridiques. La lutte jadis entreprise par les Etats du Sahara contre l’extrémisme violent et les trafics, est restée parcellaire et individualisée. Il s’ensuit dès lors une absence de coordination des réponses étatiques face aux phénomènes. Une connexion des systèmes juridique s’impose entre Etat du Sahara pour résoudre efficacement le mal qui gangrène cet espace. L’interconnexion des droits des Etats Sahariens peut se bâtir sur un certain nombre de points: règlementation de la coopération juridique et judiciaire entre les Etats du Sahara; réglementation et harmonisation des politiques transfrontières entre Etats ; harmonisation des réponses nationales des Etats dans le traitement des questions terroristes, migratoires et des trafics. Notre communication essayera de dresser un panel de propositions pour créer un cadre juridique commun aux Etats du Sahara dans la diversité juridique. Ces propositions vont tourner autour de deux axes principaux: connectivité des rapports juridiques en matière sécuritaire ; connectivité des règlementations dans le domaine migratoire et des frontières.