Masterpieces of Mali: Djenné and its Manuscripts

The Great Mosque of Djenne prior to restoration Photo by Professor Trevor HJ Marchand SOAS

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Preserving a fragile heritage

The town of Djenné in Mali is a World Heritage Site with a rich collection of rare and beautiful manuscripts. Many of these have now been preserved through digitisation projects funded by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme. An expert panel offers a unique insight into Djenné’s history and heritage, and the manuscript culture of Mali and West Africa.

Find out more about the photographic display that accompanies this event here.


Charlotte Joy, lecturer in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London and Deputy Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum. Her research is concerned with the protection, displacement and destruction of African cultural heritage and the responses of bodies such as UNESCO, museums and the International Criminal Court. She published The Politics of Heritage Management in Mali: from UNESCO to Djenné in 2011.

Fallou Ngom, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Center at Boston University. His current research includes: West African languages written in Arabic script (Ajami), the interactions between African and non-African languages and the ‘Africanisation’ of Islam. Fallou has embarked on two Endangered Archives Programme projects based in Senegal. The first was in 2010 and focussed on Wolof Ajami texts and his current project is on Mandinka Ajami.

Dmitry Bondarev, Principal Investigator for the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures, University of Hamburg. His research interests cover African linguistics particularly the structure of Saharan languages and the history of writing in Arabic based scripts (Ajami). Dmitry has advised the Endangered Archives Programme team regarding the projects in Djenné and has first-hand knowledge of the contents of the manuscripts.

Image: The Great Mosque of Djenné, courtesy of Trevor H J Marchand, SOAS


Name: Masterpieces of Mali: Djenné and its Manuscripts
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £10.00
Member: £10.00
Senior 60+: £8.00
Student: £7.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
Under 18: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546