Introduction:
The photographs in the following video were taken in 2007 in the region of Timbuktu, Mali, a landlocked country in West Africa. At that time, Mali was one of Africa’s most stable democracies. Timbuktu had regained its ancient fame as a center of Islamic scholarship.

Political chaos has now over-taken the north and south of Mali. Timbuktu is under Shariah law, controlled by rebel groups connected to al-Qaeda. Not only are thousands of ancient manuscripts and holy sites under threat, but an ancient scholarly culture….

Objective:
The objective of this video and its corresponding website is to provide cultural context to the current conflict in the north of Mali, with a focus on Timbuktu. To do so, it uses a photographic series that presents an in-depth view of Timbuktu’s tradition of Islamic scholarship, an ancient form of learning influenced by Sufism and characterized by tolerance, plurality, and a deep joy in and respect for learning.

This video calls for religious freedom and cultural self-determination for the people of Timbuktu, Mali.

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Credits:
Text and photography by Alexandra Huddleston

Recording and sound editing by Brian Stillman

Introductory music: “Hibernal”
Stock audio provided by Ian Hubball/ Pond5.com

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