SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

Timbuktu: An Illustrated Talk by Alexandra Huddleston

Alexandra Huddleston

Date: 15 October 2015Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 15 October 2015Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Room 116

Type of Event: Talk

Timbuktu, at the edge of the vast Sahara Desert, was little known in the West—except as a byword for the remote and exotic—until militant Islamist groups destroyed many of its religious shrines and ancient manuscripts in 2012. The project 333 Saints: A Life of  scholarship in Timbuktu / 333 Saints : l’esprit du savoir à Tombouctou captures a way of life and learning as it was shortly before the militants overran the city. The photographs depict a moment in time now almost gone, fading into history. They show a culture of moderate Islam that is under threat—a deeply rooted, ancient Islamic tradition of tolerance, erudition, and faith—and a city that has built its very identity around scholarship and a love of books and learning.

The photographs tell a story of discovery: exploring a rich and beautiful African intellectual culture, that of the ancient manuscript libraries of Timbuktu and the culture of scholarship that created them.

Chair: Professor Louis Brenner (SOAS).

Contact email: