Handwriting can reveal a great deal of information. The script styles of West African Muslims, in the words A.D.H. Bivar, for example, "can throw light on the fundamental problem of the origins and orientation of the Muslim religion in the Western Sudan." This talk presents ongoing research on different script styles in West African manuscripts. The presentation will draw on illustrations of several manuscripts collected in different regions of West Africa and argue against the current literature, which mainly posits the existence of a single West African style emerging as a late offshoot of the North African Maghribi tradition. It points to the development of several local script styles that originated in the very early 2nd millennium and thus forces us, along with epigraphic evidences, to rethink the standard narrative on the diffusion of literacy in West Africa.
African Studies Program Friday Colloquium Series "Towards a Handbook of West African Arabic Script Styles: Between Paleography and History" by Professor Mauro Nobili
Friday, March 22, 2019
10:30 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.
Location: GA 1112