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Grant number: RZ-260906-18

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RZ-260906-18

Boston University (Boston, MA 02215-1300)
Fallou Ngom (Project Director: December 2017 to present)

'Ajami Literature and the Expansion of Literacy and Islam: The Case of West Africa

Research and preparation for online and print publications of texts written in the West African languages Fula, Hausa, Mandinka, and Wolof that use Arabic script (‘Ajami). (36 months)

'Ajami is the Arabic term that refers to languages other than Arabic that are written in the Arabic script. 'Ajami has been instrumental in the spread of Islam beyond the Arab heartland and, while 'Ajami literatures of the Middle East and Asia are well-documented, scholars have tended to overlook the rich 'Ajami legacies of sub-Saharan Africa. This project will highlight the 'Ajami literatures of Hausa, Mandinka, Fula, and Wolof and their role in the spread of literacy and Islam in West Africa. Available on a freely accessible multimedia website, a general interpretive essay comparing the four literatures will be accompanied, for each of the four languages, by twenty digitized 'Ajami manuscripts. Each will include interpretive materials, annotations, Latin alphabet transcription, and French and English translations. Of these twenty, a select five will feature video interviews and recitations by native speakers. A selection of the work will be published in the journal Islamic Africa.

Project fields:
African History; African Studies; Languages, General

Program:
Collaborative Research

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$250,000 (approved)
$250,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2019 – 8/31/2022