Long on the margins of both scholarly and policy concerns, the countries of the West African Sahel have recently attracted world attention, primarily as a key battleground in the global 'war on terror'. This book moves beyond this narrow focus, providing a multidimensional and interdisciplinary assessment of the region in all of its complexity. The focus is on the six countries at the heart of the Sahelian geographic space: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. Collectively, the chapters explore the commonalities and interconnections that link these countries and their fates, while also underscoring their diversity and the variations in their current realities.
The Sahel today is at an important crossroads, under multiple pressures of diverse kinds: environmental, political, demographic, and economic, as well as rapidly changing social and religious dynamics. It is also marked by striking dynamism and experimentation, drawing on a long history of innovation and cultural transfer. In many ways the Sahel is today on the cutting edge of grand natural experiments exploring how humans will adapt to climate change, to technological innovation, to the global movement of populations and the restructuring of world politics, to urbanization, social change, and rapid demographic growth, and to inter-religious contact. The region is a weathervane on the front lines of the forces of global change.
In nine thematic sections, the chapters in this book offer holistic analyses of the key forces shaping the region. Including scholars based in Africa, Europe, and the United States, the authors represent an exceptional breadth and depth of expertise on the Sahel.