Ajami Lab

A treatise on belief (tawhid), of Muḥammad
al-Wālī (d. 1688/9), with annotations in Fulfulde.
Mamma Haidara Library, Timbuktu (now in Bamako).

The Ajami Lab is a label, coined in 2018, that refers to past and present research related to Ajami—that is, sub-Saharan African languages written in Arabic script—which is conducted by scholars within the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures at the Universität Hamburg.

Currently, as part of 12-year research project supported by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschunsgemeinschaft, DFG), the Lab is working to 1) catalogue Ajami manuscripts held in private and state collections of Mali and West Africa and to 2) carry out historical and linguistic analysis of the material brought to light by the cataloguing process. These endeavors are being jointly pursued by the Hamburg Unit working in Germany and the Bamako Unit in Mali.

Beyond this specifically West African project, the Ajami Lab is a collaborative research hub for a network of specialists at the Universität Hamburg and beyond who investigate Ajami literacy, texts and manuscripts across Africa and its global diaspora. If you are interested in more information or in contributing to this network’s activities, please contact Dr. Dmitry Bondarev at dmitry.bondarev [at] uni-hamburg.de.

Follow us on our Ajami blog A-label: African Languages Between the Lines and on Ajami Lab Twitter.