The Sahara has long been portrayed as a barrier that divides the Mediterranean world from Africa proper and isolates the countries of the Maghrib from their southern and eastern neighbors. Rather than viewing the desert as an isolating barrier, this volume takes up historian Fernand Braudel's description of the Sahara as "the second face of the Mediterranean." The essays recast the history of the region with the Sahara at its center, uncovering a story of densely interdependent networks that span the desert's vast expanse. They explore the relationship between the desert's "islands" and "shores" and the connections and commonalities that unite the region. Contributors draw on extensive ethnographic and historical research to address topics such as trade and migration; local notions of place, territoriality, and movement; Saharan cities; and the links among ecological, regional, and world-historical approaches to understanding the Sahara.
About the authors
James McDougall is Fellow and Tutor in modern history and University Lecturer in twentieth century history at Trinity College, Oxford. He is editor of Nation, Society and Culture in North Africa and author of History and the Culture of Nationalism in Algeria.
Judith Scheele, a social anthropologist, is a Research Fellow at All Souls' College, Oxford. She is author of Village Matters: Knowledge, Politics and Community in Kabylia.
[This] book makes a compelling case for the importance of Saharan history, both in its own right and in its articulations with the histories of other regions.November 2013
Altogether, this book is highly recommendable. Its key contribution is in teaching us to conceive of the Sahara not as a region clearly defined by natural features, but as a space that exists, extends, and expands according to its vibrant human interconnectedness.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
This edited volume presents a compilation of coherent, well-structured case studies addressing highly significant issues for the contemporary Sahara. [O]ffers a groundbreaking study of the Sahara.