The fabled city of Timbuktu has recently been a center of conflict between the French military and Islamic militants. Complicating the clash are tensions within Mali among the country’s ethnic groups. In a live Office Hours€ webcast interview at noon Friday, Feb. 8, Duke professor Bruce Hall will explain some of the historical and cultural context of the conflict.

Watch the interview Live HERE (Duke Today website link) or on Duke Today homepage. Post a question for Hall on Twitter using @DukeOfficeHours or the Duke Office Hours Facebook page.

“There is nothing ‘less racial’ about the situation in Northern Mali because of a history of ‘mixing’ than anywhere else,” Hall told the International Business Times in an article published last week. “Race is not about the biology; it is about the ideas and practices that link biological traits to value which are claimed to be transmissible inter-generationally.”

“In fact, in the absence of a strong international security presence, it seems very likely to me that racialized violence will occur on a much greater scale than it has so far,” he said.

Bruce Hall is Assistant Professor of History at Duke University in the African & African American Studies department. His current research centers on a nineteenth-century commercial network that connected Timbuktu with Ghadames (Libya), and which involved a number of literate slaves as commercial agents. Hall’s first book, A History of Race in Muslim West Africa, 1600-1960 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), is about the development of ideas about racial difference along the West African Sahel. Hall was co-winner of the 2012 Martin A. Klein Award for the best book in African History by the American Historical Association for that book. The research for this project was focused in and around the Malian town of Timbuktu. 

*This academic year he is a visiting scholar at Stanford University and is scheduled to participate in Friday’s interview via Skype. 

“Office Hours” is Duke’s live webcast series for the university community, and others, to engage with professors about their research and scholarship.

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