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CSI'S Monday Majlis: Martin Nixon

A treasure saved and to be explored: The Mohamed Tahar Library in Timbuktu, Mali

The CSI Monday Majlis is a Monday evening, online event, where invited speakers present on aspects of their current research

Event details

Monday the 5th of December. 17:00-18:30 (UK time)
Martin Nixon, A Treasure Saved and to Be Explored: The Mohamed Tahar Library in Timbuktu, Mali.

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Abstract: The Mohamed Tahar Library is one of many family-owned libraries housing Timbuktu’s important heritage of manuscripts. Accumulated over centuries, the manuscripts are a vast archive on topic such as jurisprudence, Sufism, medicine, and science, as well as local history in the form of contracts and letters. They attest to Timbuktu’s history as a centre both for trade and foe Islamic learning. In 2013 the city was occupied by groups linked to Al-Qaida who set out to destroy the libraries.  Like most of the other librarians, Abdoul Wahid Haidara, custodian of the Mohamed Tahar Library, hid his manuscripts and left with his family before the militants arrived, not sure what he would find when he returned.
I will present a short film about the library and discuss the fortuitous circumstances of its making. The project is quite far from my research field of Southern Italian Baroque and came about when Abdoul Wahid Haidara contacted me on LinkedIn. The original plan was for him to give an online presentation for my Islamic art history students, but because of technical difficulties he started sending me recordings through social media. My brother is a filmmaker, and we assembled a small group of people in several countries, all connected by social media but never meeting in person, to create a short film in English and French. 
We all had to overcome various technical and language difficulties, and we hope that the film will arouse interest in an aspect of Mali's important cultural heritage. The film is also a record of what can be achieved when people work together. All of us relied on someone else for some things, but we all had our contribution in other ways.
Short Bio: Martin Nixon is Assistant Professor of Art History at the College of Art and Creative Enterprises, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates, where he teaches introductory courses in art history as well as history of Islamic art and architecture and history of design. His research interests include materiality and affect in Early Modern architecture, architectural ornament, southern Italian art and architecture, and questions concerning global and multicultural art history.
He completed his doctoral dissertation at the University of York, UK, on architecture and aristocratic power in eighteenth-century Sicily, and is currently working on a book on this topic which will hopefully be published by Amsterdam University Press in 2023.
Although originally from London, Martin left the UK not long after university and has spent most of the last thirty or more years life living and working in many countries. His original degree was in Fine Art, and he maintains an interest in the techniques of painting and printmaking. He also has a strong interest in languages, food, and travel, something which stems from his time spent living in different parts of the world.