1. Founding saints and moneylenders: regional ecologies and oasis settlement; 2. Saints on trucks: Algerian traders and settlement in the biblad al-sudan; 3. Dates, cocaine, and AK 47s: moral conundrums on the Algero-Malian border; 4. Struggles over encompassment: hierarchy, genealogies, and their contemporary use; 5. Universal law and local containment: assemblies, qudah and the quest for civilisation; 6. Settlement, mobility, and the daily pitfalls of Saharan cosmopolitanism; Conclusion: Saharan connectivity and the 'swamp of terror'; Glossary; References; Index.
This book describes life on the contemporary border between Algeria and Mali, exploring current developments in a broad historical and socioeconomic context.
Judith Scheele is Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University. She is a social anthropologist who has conducted extensive fieldwork in North Africa and the Sahel. She is the author of Village Matters: Knowledge, Politics and Community in Kabylia, Algeria (2009).
'The Sahara is neither a romantic land of luxury-laden camel
caravans nor a vast empty darkness hiding the likes of al-Qa'ida.
Judith Scheele's Sahara is the most dynamic 'space' in today's
Africa, one brought alive by ceaselessly expanding and contracting
human networks that invest in 'place' even as mobility defines
'community'. Scheele brings us into al-Khalil, the infamous
Malian-Algerian-frontier trans-shipment centre where 'men are men',
virtue non-existent and 'family-loyalty' the definition of
survival. She introduces us to the multi-national work teams of
enormous transport trucks that criss-cross the desert with
foodstuffs, cigarettes and cocaine, licit and illicit loads
side-by-side, protected by always-present AK-47s. During sixteen
months, Scheele ... observed, questioned, interviewed ... [and]
accessed family-held Arabic documents ... Scholarship is
impressive, arguments convincing; this is the book many who know
the Sahara will wish they had written.' E. Ann McDougall,
University of Alberta
'[This] is an informative book based on tireless multisite research in local and colonial archives and among long-distance entrepreneurs, dispersed families and itinerant communities. Scheele approaches Saharan truck stops and oasis towns as dynamic nodes dependent on constant interchange with other nodes that together form a web of 'Saharan connectivity'. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the region and in carrying out trans-Saharan fieldwork.' Ghislaine Lydon, University of California, Los Angeles