Looking for help for the right PhD in Medieval West Africa

Feb 2019
9
New York, NY
Hi all,

I'm looking for help in finding scholars expert in Medieval West Africa. I'm currently in my first year of a Masters in History, and unfortunately my school doesn't offer an Africana concentration. So I'm having a hard time finding PhD programs whose faculty have interest in Medieval West Africa. I am aware of Dr. Michael Gomez, and have reached out to him, but beyond him and big schools like Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, I'm not sure where else to look. All suggestions welcomed!

PS: I am not sure yet of the exact direction I want my PhD to go, but I have a deep interest in the scholastic tradition of Medieval Mali, from Empire of Ghana to the fall of Songhay. Also, I am in the US, and schools on the East Coast would be preferable.

Thanks!
 
Jul 2019
141
Ghana
Maybe check out this project:
I believe they work together with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, which houses some of the manuscripts.

I don't know the current state of the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu on account of the Al Qaeda attacks in 2012 and 2013, but I'd consider going there if it's safe enough. Alternatively, a very large number of manuscripts were shipped to Bamako prior to and during the attacks on Timbuktu. There's a manuscript library in Djenne as well.
 
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Frank81

Ad Honorem
Feb 2010
5,127
Canary Islands-Spain

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,281
SoCal
Maybe check out this project:
I believe they work together with the University of Cape Town, South Africa, which houses some of the manuscripts.

I don't know the current state of the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu on account of the Al Qaeda attacks in 2012 and 2013, but I'd consider going there if it's safe enough. Alternatively, a very large number of manuscripts were shipped to Bamako prior to and during the attacks on Timbuktu. There's a manuscript library in Djenne as well.
Yeah, it's a huge shame that travel to Sub-Saharan Africa can sometimes be pretty dangerous or even very dangerous. :(
 
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Jul 2019
141
Ghana
Sub-Saharan Africa
Pretty specific regions are dangerous... Sadly, the Sahel is one of them, and in hindsight, if you're overly "American" looking, maybe it's better not to go there for now, lol... But Bamako is fine... Sort of. Just avoid shady people and tourist spots, just to be safe. Cape Town is safe enough if you stay out of the townships. Most of Sub-Saharan Africa is a lot safer than the Sahel and the Cape Flats though. Maybe a little "adventurous" if you're not used to developing countries, but well worth the visit. Ghana for example is often dubbed "Africa for beginners", and we also have a history department at the University of Ghana in Legon, Accra. I've been there a couple of times and it's full of American students. There's also a department of history and political studies at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi.
 
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Jul 2019
141
Ghana
Also, the United States Library of Congress actually houses some of the Timbuktu Manuscripts and digitized some of them as well.
 
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Mar 2012
406
The problem isnt just finding primary sources, heck a uni might sponsor him to visit places with the manuscripts during his Doctorate studies, the problem is finding a PhD historian(s) in African studies who can review his dissertation. This is the problem for Americans trying to do dissertations in subjects outside of American history, its one finding a school with the program, two getting accepted and 3 find PhD historians to judge your dissertation. Also Im assumuing he's gonna have to learn Arabic in the Ajami dialect in order to read the manuscripts, or find a translator...

I dont know any PhD scholars in West African history but one name that comes to mind is Dr. Chami of Dar Es Salaam university and thats Medieval Swahili history...


Also, the United States Library of Congress actually houses some of the Timbuktu Manuscripts and digitized some of them as well.
 
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Mar 2012
406
Also you're in Graduate school right, you mentioned a MA program which is different than Doctorate, (unless your university wants you to go straight to dissertation) so you should have a little time to find someone. Dr. Chami is an Archeologist, so I dont know how historians view getting a Historical dissertation judged by Archeologists, Im sure its fine....but ill tell you this, Swahili history is VERY underrated, you could definately contribute something to the field if you choose that culture. They have manuscripts as well and a rich culture and Im sure there are other professors at Dar Es Salaam or other Universities associated with it that you could do a dissertation with.

Hi all,

I'm looking for help in finding scholars expert in Medieval West Africa. I'm currently in my first year of a Masters in History, and unfortunately my school doesn't offer an Africana concentration. So I'm having a hard time finding PhD programs whose faculty have interest in Medieval West Africa. I am aware of Dr. Michael Gomez, and have reached out to him, but beyond him and big schools like Yale, Harvard, and Princeton, I'm not sure where else to look. All suggestions welcomed!

PS: I am not sure yet of the exact direction I want my PhD to go, but I have a deep interest in the scholastic tradition of Medieval Mali, from Empire of Ghana to the fall of Songhay. Also, I am in the US, and schools on the East Coast would be preferable.

Thanks!
 
  • Like
Reactions: askan and Futurist