Sahel on Sahel

Collaborative visual anthropology

The Sahel on Sahel: Collaborative Visual Anthropology-project is studying social and communication processes in the Sahel, by providing Sahelian universities and communities with tools for improving capacities for dialogue and for communicating grassroots perspectives, values and needs.

To reach our goal, Sahel on Sahel shall develop competences in Collaborative Visual Anthropology at the Universite des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Bamako, Mali and Abdou Moumouni University Niamey, Niger, at the University of Maroua and the University of Ngaoundéré, Cameroon. In collaboration we want to produce relevant knowledge on the current situation in the Sahel, and contribute to cross-cultural dialogue and peace processes in the Sahel. This implies that the local populations will be equipped with the means to save, secure and distribute their audio-visual stories. This also implies technical capacity, equipment and institutionalization.

Competence in Collaborative Visual Anthropology will be used to establish visual dialogue with Sahelian societies through the applied, “Sahel par lui même,” initiative - organizing reflexive film-training courses to teach individuals selected by their communities to make films about their collective lives. We are establishing a Centre of Digital Archives, Learning and Dissemination (CADED), to process the films and ancillary materials to facilitate continuous dialogue on local issues in the Sahel.

Short history of collaboration with selected partner institutions: 

The Sahel on Sahel project is buildt on more than 30 years of univesity collaboation between UiT- the Arctic University of Norway, in Tromsø and Universities in West and Central Africa. 

Since 1992, the network has developed inter-university collaborative projects, the Ngaoundéré-Anthropos, Cameroon (1992-2006), the ACE funded Images with a Capital ‘I’: Developing visual literacy in cross-cultural communication, Bamako, Mali. 

2006/2007, the Dean at FSHSE (UoBamako), Professor Drissa Diakite, had a visiting professorship at the University of Tromsø where he wrote the book, “Kuyatè. La Force du Serment: Aux Orgines de Griot Mandingue (Dikité, 2009).

2006-2012, “Images with a capital ‘I’. Developing Visual Literacy in Cross-Cultural Communication”. Our first attempt to build a visual anthropology program in Bamako.  Collaboration between UiT and ULSHB was temporarily terminated just after the civil war. 

2018 – 2019, Zakiathou Haltine and Ibrahim Ag Youssouf, from Mali, had research and teaching programs at UiT as part of the Scholars at Risk program. Dr. Youssouf has been involved in successful peace negotiations in Northern Mali in the 1990’s and 2000’s. Haltine was the first female minister in Mali. Both are valued resources for this new project. 

The Master Programme in Visual Anthropology at UiT has been granted Erasmus + Global Mobility stipends for students and teachers from ULSHB coming to Tromsø, and for teachers from Tromsø going to ULSHB (2019-2021).

The VISCAM project, 2016-2021, have created a new basis of competence within the field of visual anthropology in the Sahel. UoMaroua and UoNgoundere both now have functioning VA programs. Malian scholars where members of the program.  

These collaborations have produced undergraduate and/or graduate degree programs in Visual Cultural Studies (VCS) at the University of Tromsø (UiT), since 1997, at ULSHB since 2007, at University of Maroua (UoM) since 2009, and at University of Ngaoundéré (UoNg) since 2019. 

Through collaborative activities we have come far in developing sustainable teaching and a positive, productive research environment in Northern Cameroon. This important human and academic resource is a foundation for the work in Western Sahel. 

Relationships with the research network and academic community in Niger have been in place since the founder of the MA program in visual anthropology at UiT, Lisbet Holtedahl, did her fieldwork in Eastern Niger in the 1970’s. 


UiT - Arctic univeristy of Norway. Department of Social Science.

Université des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines de Bamako, a Mali Faculté des Sciences Humaines et des Sciences de l'Education  (FSHSE).

Univ Abdou Moumouin Niamey, Niger

University of Maroua,  Cameroon.

University of Ngaoundere, Cameroon.