Category Archives: Uncategorized

Cherchez la France: Mali’s complex postcolonial identity

There’s an old French expression cherchez la femme–literally, “look for the woman.” In the 1850s, novelist Alexandre Dumas used this phrase to convey his sense that whatever tensions or conflicts arose between people, somewhere at the root of them would … Continue reading

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Bamako’s mood: good for Goïta, bad for France…

Pollster Sidiki Guindo has just unveiled results from a phone survey of 1144 Bamako residents conducted between September 30 and October 3 (see full results here). The results will surely warm the heart of Mali’s president, Colonel Assimi Goïta, because … Continue reading

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A la recherche de l’avenir de Bamako : Un manifeste ethnographique

Au risque de paraître trop hâtif ou empressé, je voudrais aborder maintenant [le sujet] la question de mes prochaines recherches à Bamako. Le manuscrit de livre tiré de mes recherches passées reste bloqué pour le moment ; j’ai commencé ces … Continue reading

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Looking for Bamako’s future: An ethnographic manifesto

It is probably premature of me, perhaps even somewhat rash, to choose this time to write about my next research project in Bamako. After all, the book manuscript stemming from my current project (on the city’s changing contours of marriage … Continue reading

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Le taximan bamakois: A tribute

To give you a rough idea of the importance of taxis to my existence whenever I’m in Bamako, let me offer this number: in the field notes I wrote during my last research trip, a three-week visit to wrap up a decade-long study of urban marriage and polygamy trends, the word “taxi” appears 28 times–more often than the name of my wife who accompanied me, more often than “marriage” or “polygamy,” and nearly as often as “Bamako.” Continue reading

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Exploring risk and resilience in rural Mali

The year’s most notable book of Mali-focused research is, to my mind, Camilla Toulmin’s Land, Investment, and Migration: Thirty-Five Years of Village Life in Mali. Based on the author’s fieldwork in the community of Dlonguebougou (central Segou region, north of … Continue reading

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A message to my people: Can we halt America’s tribalization?

I wrote this opinion piece for US newspapers but couldn’t find an editor willing to run it. The intended subtitle was “When African civil wars foreshadow our present heart of darkness.” While US politics isn’t a subject I would normally … Continue reading

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In search of Mali’s Russia connection

If you follow press coverage of public events in Mali, particularly street demonstrations, you may have noticed a pattern over the last few years: alongside expressions of anti-French sentiment, which I’ve written about extensively on this blog, are frequently expressions … Continue reading

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“Hands off my junta!”

Or, Why the international community should show post-IBK Mali some love The parallels between this week’s events in Bamako and those of March 2012 keep coming. On top of the fact that both began as mutinies at the Soundiata Keita … Continue reading

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Taking it to the streets

Yes, Mali’s 2020 coup looked a lot like the previous one eight years ago. Frustration had been mounting, both among the general public and among the military. The army had been taking too many casualties up north. Troops in the … Continue reading

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