Winner of the 2016
Conover-Porter Award. The prize is awarded by the African Studies Association (ASA) to Outstanding Africa-related reference works, bibliographies or bibliographic essays published in any country, separately or as part of a larger work.
The Writings of Mauritania and the Western Sahara compiles 300 years of literary production, in excess of 10,000 titles by over 1800 authors,who document a vibrant Islamic culture and educational system in a Bedouin society lacking any overarching state. This contradicts our received wisdom about the nature of high Islamic scholarship, and it offers insights into complicated relationships between the authority of the Word and quotidian life in nomadic society. Biographical profiles of the writers and analyses of significant works tell a story of the organic growth of a Saharan scholarly tradition, linked but largely independent of the heartlands, original in its
Hassaniyya verse and extensive legal literature, deeply rooted in its Islamic culture.
Charles C. Stewart, D.Phil Oxon. is Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Visiting Scholar at the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa, Northwestern University. He developed the first computer-based bilingual cataloguing system for Arabic manuscripts in West Africa, now on-line, for Mauritanian collections. Sidi Ahmed ould Ahmed Salem, Ph.D. University of Mohammed V, taught as a professor of Arabic literature in Nouakchott before joining the Al-Jazeera Center for Studies in Doha where he now heads the Africa bureau. He has published widely on Mauritanian literature and edited a number of texts.
'No library worth its name in any modern institution or research center should be without the
Arabic Literature of Africa series of which this particular volume will remain a culminating flagship for bibliographical and reference scholarship for a long time to come'. Amidu Olalekan Sanni, Lagos State University/ Universität Bayreuth, in
Bibliotheca Orientalis LXIV n° 1-2, januari-april 2017 'By and large, the ALA series, and indeed this particular volume, has convincingly committed to the dustbin of history the Hegelian thesis of a history-less Africa with no movement or development to exhibit, or Trevor-Roper’s characterization of Africa as a ‘dark continent’ with no documentary record, and the utterly false assumption that ‘Africa south of the Sahara was, until recently, one of the main areas of the world where writing was totally absent’ (J. Goody, Myth, Ritual, and the Oral, Cambridge, 2010, 122). This is a volume for which praise is superfluous, as bibliographers and researchers will find it to be an inexhaustible mine of intellectual materials for a long time to come.' Amidu Olalekan Sanni, Lagos State University/ Universität Bayreuth, in
Journal of Islamic Studies, January 1, 2017; Vol. 28, No. 1
Academic libraries catering to African literature, Arabic and Islamic literature, and researchers interested in jurisprudence, Arabic verse, authority in acephalous societies and the evolution of a written Islamic culture