Leonardo A. Villalón
Leonardo A. Villalón, coordinator of the Sahel Research Group, is Dean of the International Center and Professor of Political Science and African Studies at the University of Florida. From 2002-2011 he served as director of the university’s Center for African Studies. Villalón is a specialist on politics in the Francophone countries of the African Sahel, where he has lived, traveled and lectured extensively. Villalón’s research has explored religious involvement in the debates on democracy in Senegal, Mali and Niger. He is also interested in social change and electoral dynamics across the Sahelian region. From 2007-09, he held a Carnegie Scholars fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, for research on a project entitled: “Negotiating Democracy in Muslim Contexts: Political Liberalization and Religious Mobilization in the West African Sahel.” With Mahaman Tidjani Alou of LASDEL, Niger, he codirected a project analyzing religion and educational reform in Senegal, Mali and Niger. He is also codirector (with Daniel A. Smith) of the State Department-funded Trans-Saharan Elections Project, focused on six countries: Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad. He is currently PI of a three year (2012-2015) Minerva Initiative grant for research on social change and political stability in the same six Francophone Sahelian countries, and of the OECD Cities and Borders program.
Renata Serra is Senior Lecturer in the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida, as well as a core faculty member in the Master in Sustainable Development Practice program and member of the Management Entity of the USAID’s Livestock Systems Innovation Lab at UF, co-leading both the Policy and Gender Teams. An economist by training, she earned her PhD from Cambridge University (UK) in 1997. Her expertise focuses on agricultural and livestock policies, the political economy of reforms, gender issues and household decision-making, child labor, and social capital, with particular attention to countries in Franco-phone West Africa. Dr. Serra has done consultancy work for Catholic Relief Services, the International Cocoa Institute, Oxfam UK, DFID, SIDA, the World Bank, and Save the Children UK. She was convener and coordinator of the project on Development, Security and Climate Change in the Sahel, a collaboration between the MDP programs of the University of Florida, the Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, Senegal, and Sciences Po Paris.
Abdoulaye Kane holds a joint position between the Center for African Studies and the Department of Anthropology. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 2001 from the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Dr. Kane specializes in international migration and transnationalism with an emphasis on Senegalese migrants in Europe and in the United States. He has recently completed a book manuscript on the practice of transnationalism by the Haalpulaar migrants of the Senegal River Valley. He is the co-editor, with Todd Leedy, of African Migrations, Patterns and Perspective (Indiana University Press, 2013). He also co-edited, with Hansjoerg Dilder, and Stacey Langwick, Medicine, Mobility, and Power in Global Africa, Transnational Health and Healing (Indiana University Press 2012). He is currently working on a book manuscript exploring the building of Tijani transnational religious circuits connecting religious cities in Senegal, Fez, and satellite communities in France.
Fiona Mc Laughlin
Fiona Mc Laughlin is Professor of Linguistics and African Languages. She specializes in the sociolinguistics of urban language contact in the Sahel, as well as in the phonology and morphology of Seereer, Wolof and Pulaar, three Atlantic (Niger-Congo) languages spoken in Senegal. She has a secondary research interest in Islam and popular culture. Mc Laughlin has a PhD in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a former director of the West African Research Center in Dakar and has taught at the Université Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger, and at the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis, Senegal.
Alioune Sow holds a joint appointment in French and African Studies at the University of Florida. He is the Director of the France Florida Research Institute. His research interests include democratic transition and cultural forms in francophone West Africa, focusing especially on memoirs, theater and films in Mali, as well as migration and theater practices in France. His current book project entitled Transitional memoirs, examines the interplay between letters, politics and the cultures of memory in post military Mali and in the Sahel. His articles on confessions and testimonies in democratic Mali, refugee theater in Bamako, political intuition in autobiographies of childhood, Malian cinema and military, Malian television serials and democratic experience, have been published in Critical Interventions, Social Dynamics, African Studies Review, Biography. He has also edited special issues of Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines and Etudes Littéraires Africaines. Vestiges et Vertiges appeared with Artois Presses Université in 2011. Alioune Sow holds a PhD from the Sorbonne.
Sarah McKune is an Assistant Professor in the Center for African Studies and in the Department of Environmental and Global Health in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. She holds an MPH from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida. Prior to work in academia, McKune spent nearly a decade in development, focusing on global health issues, including HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, maternal and child health, nutrition, and food security, much of this work occurring with NGOs throughout West Africa. Her doctoral research investigated the perceived risk of climate change on adaptation and livelihood vulnerability of pastoralists in eastern Niger. Her work in Niger following the 2005 food crisis provided the basis for her 2011 dissertation research on pastoral vulnerability, and contributed to her work with the USAID funded Livestock Climate Change CRSP to address issues of nutrition in Mali and Senegal. She held a postdoc at UF with the Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security program of the CGIAR to improve social equity of program benefits, particularly among women, in Kaffrine, Senegal, as well as sites in Kenya and Nepal. She is currently a member of the USAID’s Livestock System Innovation Lab (LSIL) at UF, which aims to reduce stunting in children under five in six countries, including Mali and Burkina Faso, by increasing consumption of animal source foods. McKune is leading the LSIL management entity’s Cross Cutting Theme of Nutritional and Human Health.
Sebastian Elischer is an Assistant Professor of African Politics at the University of Florida. Prior to joining UF, Dr Elischer was Assistant Professor of comparative politics at the Leuphana University Lüneburg (Germany) and a research fellow at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA) in Hamburg. He holds a PhD in comparative politics from Jacobs University Bremen (Germany), a dual MA from the Free University of Berlin and the George Washington University in Washington DC, and a BA from the University of Wales/Aberystwyth (UK). He is the author of Political Parties in Africa: Ethnicity and Party Formation published by Cambridge University Press in 2013. His work has appeared in Democratization and Foreign Affairs. Elischer’s current research focuses on the extent to which Sahelian states (Niger, Mali, Mauritania, and Chad) have tried to supervise the influx and the practice of Salafi communities since independence. The project is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation.
Tatiana Smirnova is a Research Assistant Scientist in the Department of Geography at the University of Florida, starting this Fall. She works on the project “Foreign interventions and transnational insurgencies in the Sahara-Sahel” funded through the Sahel and West Africa Club at the OECD. Dr. Smirnova completed her PhD in social anthropology at EHESS in Paris. She has worked as a Program Assistant at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in 2007 and as a Human Resource Officer at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands in 2009. More recently, Dr. Smirnova has worked as an international consultant for Transparency International, Search for Common Ground, and the Danish Refugee Council in Niger. Fluent in French, English, Russian and Hausa, Dr. Smirnova has applied social network analysis to the study of the Boko Haram insurrection in the Lake Chad region.
Benjamin Soares is a scholar of Islam and Muslim societies in Africa whose research focuses particularly on religious life from the early 20th century to the present. He has conducted research in Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan, as well as among West African Muslims in Europe and Asia. In recent work, he has looked at the connections between changing modalities of religious expression, different modes of belonging, and emergent social imaginaries in colonial and postcolonial West Africa. In addition to ongoing interests in religious encounters and religion, media, and the public sphere, he is studying contemporary Muslim public intellectuals in Africa. He is a co-editor of Africa, the journal of the International African Institute (London), and he also co-edits the International African Library book series (Cambridge).
Olivier J. Walther is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Using social network analysis, his research and teaching has focused on cross-border trade, cross-border cooperation and terrorism in West Africa. Fluent in English and French, Professor Walther spent part of his youth in West Africa and has worked in Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Ghana, Benin and Mauritania. His work combines geographic information systems, social network analysis, statistical analysis and qualitative interviews. His current research project funded by the OECD Sahel and West Africa Club studies political insecurity and transnational insurgencies in West Africa. Professor Walther has received support for his work from the United Nations World Food Programme, the European Commission, the OECD, the European Spatial Planning Observatory, the research funds of Luxembourg and Denmark, and the Carlsberg Foundation. Dr Walther is the Africa Editor of the Journal of Borderlands Studies and is on the executive committee of the African Borderlands Research Network (ABORNE).
Research associates and graduate Students
Oumar Ba is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Morehouse College. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Florida, a B.A in Geography from the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, a B.A in International Studies from The Ohio State University, an M.A in Political Science, and another M.A in African Studies from Ohio University. His research focuses on the politics of international justice. His current project explores the local and international dynamics of the destruction of cultural heritage in Timbuktu and its prosecution as war crimes. Languages: Pulaaar, Wolof, French, English, and Arabic.
Mamadou Bodian received his Ph.D. from the University of Florida and is a founding member of the Sahel Research Group. He is a Researcher in the SIPRI Sahel and West Africa Programme. Mamadou was also a Project Coordinator for the Trans-Saharan Elections Programme (TSEP) at the University of Florida. From 2008 to 2009, he served as a Senior Researcher in the Project Office ‘Islam Research Programme’ at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Senegal, a project sponsored by Leiden University and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has been acting as an expert for Freedom House (Mali) since 2015, Variety of Democracy (Mauritania) since 2015, and Afrobarometer (Senegal) since 2018. Languages: Diola, Mandingue, Wolof, French, English.
Adib Benchérif is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Sahel Research Group at the University of Florida, starting this Fall. He is a Research Fellow with the Centre FrancoPaix of the Chaire Raoul-Dandurand for diplomatic and strategic studies at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM). Adib is also an affiliate of other research centers like the Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur l’Afrique et le Moyen-Orient (CIRAM) at Laval University, the Centre d’études et de recherches internationales (CÉRIUM) at the University of Montreal (UdeM) and at the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society (TSAS). Adib holds a B.A. from the School of International Relations in Paris and an M.A. in International Relations from Laval University in Canada. He will be defending his Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of Ottawa this Fall. His research focuses on security issues and political violence in the Sahel, with a focus on the narratives and representations of Tuareg political elites in Mali and Niger. He is the author of several peer-reviewed articles published in Terrorism and Political Violence, Mediterranean Politics, The Canadian Journal of African Studies, Cahiers d’études africaines and Politique Africaine. He is fluent in French and English and proficient in Spanish, Arabic and Tamashek.
Dan Eizenga is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Centre FrancoPaix of the Chaire Raoul-Dandurand for diplomatic and strategic studies at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM) where his research focuses on international interventions and violent extremism in the Sahel. He is also a research associate with the Sahel Research Group at the University of Florida. He received his PhD from the Department of Political Science at the University of Florida in 2018. Dan has conducted extensive fieldwork in the Francophone African Sahel, primarily in Burkina Faso, Chad and Senegal. He has also conducted research that examines various debates across Chadian university campuses regarding the politics of laïcité, the strong form of secularism inherited from French colonial rule. This collaborative research project, supported by the United States Institute of Peace, seeks to analyze the growing importance of religious actors at Chadian universities. More broadly, his research on secularism in Chad and the Sahel region aims to better understand how public debates overlap with religious discourse in a context of preventing and/or countering violent extremism. His broader academic research interests are on democratization and authoritarianism in sub-Saharan Africa, Islam and politics, development, civil-military relations, and violent extremism.
Macodou is a PhD student and a teaching assistant at the University of Florida Center for Global Islamic Studies. He holds a B.A and an M.A in English from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar and another M.A in African Studies from Ohio University. Macodou is interested in the study of Islam, Ajami literature, traditional religions, and popular culture in West Africa with a focus on the Senegalese Sufi Brotherhood, Muridiyya. His research project seeks to explore the Murid urban associations’ (Dahiras) various teaching methodologies, which also include singing, praise singing, and the interpretation of Murid texts (qasidas) via use of Wolofal (Adjami Wolof). Macodou is fluent in Wolof, French, and English and has taught Wolof at Ohio University.
Jamie Fuller is a doctoral student in the department of Anthropology at the University of Florida. She received her B.A. in Anthropology, and her M.A. in African African-American Studies from the University of Kansas. Her research draws from Moral Anthropology and Migration and Diaspora studies. It explores the structure of moral obligation and remittance practices among Senegalese diaspora communities, and their effects on urbanization in Senegal. Her work analyzes urban change in the Sahel region in the context of rapid rural-urban migration, and the connection between regional and transnational migration and identity formation. Languages: French, Wolof, English.
Email – Department link
Abdourahmane Idrissa is Senior Researcher in the African Studies Centre at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. His doctorate in political science, with a concentration on democratization and political Islam in Africa, was obtained at the University of Florida. Idrissa’s research expertise ranges from issues of states, institutions and democratization in Africa to Salafi radicalism in the Sahel and current projects on the history of state formation in Africa, with a focus both on the modern (Niger) and premodern eras (Songhay). Idrissa is the founder of EPGA a think tank in political economy in Niger, training students and coordinating projects based on methodologies of political economy analysis focused on migration, youth employment and demography. He is also associated with the Niamey based social science laboratory LASDEL and is on the editorial board of the African Studies Quarterly, at the University of Florida. He is the author of the book The Politics of Islam in the Sahel : Between Persuasion and Violence (Routledge, 2017). Together with Samuel Decalo he has recently published a completely new edition of the Historical Dictionary of Niger.
Frédérick Madore is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for African Studies at the University of Florida. He received his Ph.D. in History from the Université Laval (Canada) in 2018. His current research project focuses on Islam and Muslim societies in Benin, and Togo since independence. Using Omeka, an open-source web publishing platform, he aims to develop an innovative digital archive database of materials related to Islam in West Africa. Madore’s research has also explored the relations between politics and Islam, the emergence of new forms of youth and women Islamic activism, as well as the appropriation of media by new Muslim actors in Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. He is the author of the book “La construction d’une sphère publique musulmane en Afrique de l’Ouest” (Presses de l’Université Laval, 2016) on Islam in Burkina Faso. Languages: French, English.
Emi Moore is a doctoral student in the Department of Environmental and Global Health at the University of Florida. She received her B.A. in Letters from the University of Oklahoma, her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of North Florida, and her Masters of Health Science in One Health from the University of Florida. Her research focuses on the use of social science applications within livestock programs to examine the relationship between women’s empowerment and child health outcomes relating to animal source food consumption in the Sahel. Currently, she is the graduate research assistant for the Sahel Research Group and works on research within the LSIL management entity’s Cross Cutting Theme lab for Human Health and Nutrition with her advisor, Dr. Sarah McKune.
Matthew Pflaum is a graduate student in the Department of Geography at the University of Florida, starting this Fall. He holds a Master in Public Health from Emory University and a Master of Science in African studies and international development from the University of Edinburgh. Matthew has worked on polio in Central African Republic and health systems in Bangladesh. While at Edinburgh, he organized a funded election coverage event for the Ghanaian election and did field work for his Master’s dissertation on land conflict and tenure between farmers and Mbororo herders in Eastern Cameroon. His PhD dissertation will address pastoralist mobility around borders in West Africa under the supervision of Dr. Olivier Walther.
Email – Department link – Personal website
Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim
Ibrahim Yahaya Ibrahim is Senior Analyst Sahel based in Dakar for the International Crisis Group. His work covers Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso. He received his Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Florida, where he was also a research assistant for the Minerva Initiative project on Institutional reform, social change and stability in the Sahel. His research interests relate to political economy, Islam, and humanitarianism in the Sahelian countries. He has a background in Sociology, Islamic Jurisprudence, and Management, with degrees from the Islamic University of Say and Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey. Ibrahim is also an alumnus of the Fulbright Program. He worked for four years with Islamic NGOs in Niger, including two years as the Executive Director of the Niger-office of Albasar International Foundation. He is a co-founder of the NGO Project Global Health. Languages: French, English, Arabic, and Hausa.
VISITORS AND AFFILIATES
William Adzawla is a visiting scholar to the Center for African Studies, University of Florida during the spring semester 2019. He is a PhD student in Climate Change Economics from University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal. William comes from Ghana and received his BSc degree in Agricultural Technology and MPhil degree in Agricultural Economics, both from University for Development Studies, Ghana. His research interests include the study of efficiency, climate adaptation, sustainable livelihoods and poverty/welfare analysis. William is currently researching the impact of climate adaptation on gender inequality. William has good statistical analytical skills in STATA and SPSS. He has led a number of baseline and project evaluation researches in Ghana.
Ben Burgen is a doctoral student in cultural anthropology at the University of Florida. His ethnographic research has focused on Soninké communities in the Upper Senegal River Valley regions of both Mauritania and Senegal, as well as the global urban centers where Soninké migrants work and live. His new ethnographic research incorporates a comparative examination of contemporary Wolof migrant networks. His overall research interests include transnational migration, economic and social change, community-led development, trans-border networks, alternative citizenships, local politics, and state effects. Languages: English, French, Soninké, Wolof.
Mamadou Cissé was a visiting scholar with the Sahel Research Group in the Spring 2015. He holds a doctorate in linguistics from the National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO) in Paris, a master’s degree in English and a bachelor’s degree in French as a Foreign Language. He also holds master’s degrees in international relations and in classical Arabic from INALCO. As a translator and interpreter, he revived the teaching of Wolof at INALCO. After a decade spent in Paris, Mamadou Cissé held posts in Japan and Niger before settling in Dakar, Senegal, where he teaches at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop. His most recent work focuses on general linguistics, lexicology, terminology and linguistic arrangements in Africa, as well as on the writing of African languages in the Arabic script (Ajami). He has written and co-authored several books, including Modern Wolof Tales (Harmattan, 2000), French-Wolof Dictionary (Asiathique, 2004), Wolof Proverbs and Dictions (Présence africaine, 2014), and the Wolof translation of The French Language Worldwide (International Organization for the Francophonie, 2014). Mamadou Cissé speaks Wolof, Pulaar, Serer, French, English, Arabic and Japanese.
Awa Doucoure is a doctoral student in the Department of Political Science at Gaston Berger University in Senegal. She is also teaching assistant at the Virtual University of Senegal. She is a World Bank Robert S. McNamara scholarships visiting fellow for a research stay in African Studies Center and Sahel Research Group, with Professor Villalon, from April 2017 to January 2018. Her research interests are definition and implementation of public policies. For her dissertation, she is focusing on public policy reform in Higher education initiated by the Senegalese government which aims to develop its human capital in order to provide quality human resources capable of having a direct influence on national productivity. Languages: Wolof, French, English.
Isaie Dougnon is a Professor of Anthropology at University of Bamako, Mali. His work is focused on migration and labour among Dogon and Songhoy populations of Mali. In 2011-2012, he was a senior Fulbright fellow in the Center for African Studies, University of Florida, where he was affiliated with the Sahel Research Group. His Fulbright research project was entitled The crisis of academic freedom before and after democracy in Mali. He is currently Humboldt Fellow based at the University of Bayreuth, working on a project on “Life Cycle and Careers in Modern Work in Malian society.”
Marjatta Eilittä is the Deputy Director for the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems. She received her Ph.D. in Agronomy with a minor in Food and Resource Economics from the University of Florida. Her research was on soil fertility and green manures in tropical smallholder systems. She consequently worked 12 years in agricultural development in West Africa, mainly from a base in Ghana, but with regional responsibilities, including in the Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, Northern Nigeria, and Senegal. Her work covered soil fertility, crop production and inputs, national and regional policies, and value chain development. From 2011 to 2013 she led a USAID-funded project on regional trade in staple commodities and livestock, which sparked her interest in trade networks and corridors as well as the neglected role of regional trade, particularly between the Sahel and the coastal countries, in the regional food security.
Mamane Bello Garba Hima
Mamane Bello is a PhD student at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar in Senegal. He holds a B.S and an M.S in Economics from respectively the University of Abdou Moumouni in Niger and the University of Abomey Calavi in Benin. He also holds another M.Tech in Climate change and adapted land use from the Federal University of Technology Minna, Nigeria. Mamane Bello is interested in the study of Microeconomics, Industrial Economics, Environmental Economics, and Armed Conflicts in West Africa with a focus on armed conflicts in Niger. His PhD dissertation project aims at contributing to the understanding of economic and environmental triggers of armed conflicts in Niger. Mamane Bello is fluent in Djerma, Haussa, English, and French.
Ladiba Gondeu is a Chadian social anthropologist specializing in civil society, religious dynamics, and project planning and analysis. He is also very active in the Chadian Peace and Reconciliation Initiative. From 2008-2012 he taught in the Sociology department at the University of Ndjamena. In the Spring 2013 semester he was a visiting scholar at the University of Florida, hosted by the Sahel Research Group as part of the Minerva Initiative project. He is the author of L’émergence des organisations islamiques au Tchad. Enjeux, acteurs et territoires published by L’Harmattan in 2011: He is currently completing a doctoral thesis at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, on the promotion of Republican values in the management of communal land in the Chadian portion of the Niger basin
Jean Alain Goudiabye
Jean Alain Goudiaby is a sociologist and professor at the Université Assane Seck de Ziguinchor (Senegal). His research interests focus around higher education policy in Africa, academic mobility, university governance, and pedagogy. He is the author of L’université et la recherche au Sénégal à la croisée des chemins, published by Academia-L’Harmattan, 2014. He is a member of the Réseau d’Etude sur l’Enseignement Supérieur (RESUP), the Association pour la Recherche sur l’Education et les Savoirs (ARES), and projet DEMOSTAF. He currently serves as Director of Pedagogy and of University Reform, as well as a member of the Laboratory on Economic and Social Sciences at the Université Assane Seck de Ziguinchor. He was a visiting scholar at the University of Florida and the Sahel Research Group from March to April 2016.
John Hames is a PhD candidate in the University of Florida’s Department of Anthropology. His dissertation research in Senegal, Mauritania and France has looked at a network of literacy teachers, journalists, poets, entertainers and political activists committed to promoting Pulaar, a language spoken by a significant minority of Senegalese and Mauritanians. He is interested in the way Pulaar linguistic militancy operates through a complex and often paradoxical interplay of loyalties to the nation-state, as well as alternative forms of citizenship based on linguistic, kinship and cultural ties. His broader research interests include language ideology, language activism, social movements, trans-border networks, governance and the state. Languages: English, Pulaar.
Fatoumata (“Kiné”) Hane
Fatoumata (“Kiné”) Hane is a social anthropologist with a specialization in health and medical anthropology. She received a Ph.D. from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in 2007. She was a visiting scholar with the UF Sahel Research Group in September 2013 and returned for the second time in September 2015. She is currently the head of the department of Sociology at the University of Zinguinchor in Senegal, where she works primarily on questions of gender-based violence in conflict settings in Africa. She has carried out a number or research projects in public health policies and governance notably related to tuberculosis and HIV infection in Senegal. She is also the director of a research group on civil governance (LAREG : Laboratoire de recherche et d’études sur la gouvernance), the Senegalese section of Transparency International.
Luca Mantegazza is a student at the School for Advanced Studies – IMT Lucca in Italy where he is completing a Ph.D. in Economics with a focus on Political Economy and Development Economics. After his Masters in Political Economy, Luca worked for a year in Tanzania as a Project Coordinator for an American NGO and, since then, has developed a strong interest for the economic and political issues of Sub-Saharan Africa. During the research for his PhD dissertation at the University of Florida, Luca was lucky to be warmly welcomed by professors Serra and Villalòn of the Sahel Research Group and invited to join the group activities. Currently hired as an Adjunct Lecturer in Microeconomics and Game Theory by the Department of Economics at the University of Florida, Luca is completing his dissertation on the impact of increasing shares of college educated people on the political and economic dynamics of developing countries.
Massaer Mbaye joined SRG for an internship in September 2017. Massaer is a graduate student from Université de Montreal. During his Bachelor studies, he joined the honors program of Université de Montreal in economics and received Marcel Boyer prize in mathematical tools. He was selected in a competitive contest, sponsored by the Central Bank of Canada, to predict the interest rate that the Central Bank should use by the end of the 2016 session. Massaer currently researches price distortions and public policies on agricultural incentives in Senegal and Burkina Faso. Languages: Wolof, French, English.
Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem
Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem is Associate Professor of Political Science at Northwestern University. Prior to joining Northwestern, he was Professor of Political Science at the University of Nouakchott, Mauritania. He is also Research Associate at the Centre d’études et de recherche internationales-Sciences-Po. He earned his Ph.D. from the Université de Lyon, France in 1996. For 2005-2007, he served as General Secretary respectively at The Ministry of Higher Education, and The Ministry of Rural Development in Mauritania. In 2010-2011, he was the very first Mauritanian scholar to be granted the U.S. Fulbright Program Senior Scholar Fellowship to the University of Florida, where he was affiliated with the Sahel Research Group. Subsequently, he was granted two research fellowships respectively at the Paris Institute of Advanced Study and the Nantes Institute of Advanced Study. His research interests are in politics, religion and social transformation with a special focus on Mauritania and North Africa.
Bakary Sambe is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Religious Studies of the Université Gaston Berger in Saint-Louis, Senegal, where he also serves as Coordinator of the “Observatory on Religious Radicalism and Conflict in Africa.” He was a visiting scholar with the Sahel Research Group in March and April 2014. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from the Institute of Political Studies of the Université Lumière Lyon 2 and a Masters degree in Arabic Languages and Civilizations. He has been a visiting scholar at The Institute of African Studies (Mohammed V University, Morocco) and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations (ISMC) of the Aga Khan University, London. Dr. Sambe is the author of numerous publications on relations between Arab North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, and on religious dynamics in the Muslim Sahel. He has published a report entitled Overview of religious radicalism and the terrorist threat in Senegal. Dr. Sambe is a native speaker of Wolof, fluent in French, Classical Arabic, Maghrebian and Levantine Arabic dialects, and good English.
Elhadji Sarr is a free lance Interpreter and translator, currently working as a contract French Interpreter with the US Government. He is also a scholar of West African Literature and his current research focuses on the issue of democratization in West Africa starting in the late 1980s viewed through the lens of literary creation. The corpus he studies includes writers from two Sahelian countries, Mali and Senegal. He has extensively researched Islamic brotherhoods in Senegal and their relationships with political leaders and the ruling party. He has also spent several years studying the complex Casamance conflict in southern Senegal. Elhadji worked for 22 years at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, first as Cultural Specialist and subsequently as Political Specialist. He maintains a keen academic interest in US foreign policy and security in the world.
Antoinette Tidjani Alou
Antoinette Tidjani-Alou is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at the Université Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger, where she is also member of a research group on “Literature, Gender and Development.” In 2011-2012, she was a senior Fulbright fellow in the Center for African Studies, University of Florida, where she was affiliated with the Sahel Research Group. She has published widely on issues of culture and gender in the Sahel, and has served as president of the International Society for the Oral Literatures of Africa. Her 2012 lecture to the Library of Congress entitled: “The Secret Faces of Women from the Nigerien Sahel: Agency, Influence and Contemporary Challenges” is available here.
Ann Wainscott completed her PhD in Political Science at the University of Florida in 2013, under the direction of Leonardo Villalón and is now an Assistant Professor at St. Louis University. She specializes in the politics of authoritarianism in North Africa and teaches courses in Comparative Politics and the politics of the Middle East and North Africa. Wainscott’s research focuses on authoritarian regimes’ efforts to shape ideological debates about religion through public education. Her dissertation, “How an Islamic Solution became an Islamist Problem” argues that the Moroccan monarchy’s reforms to public education have been shaped by political rather than pedagogical interests. Wainscott has worked in Senegal, Mali and Ghana. Languages: English, Arabic, French.
ISABELLE WALTHER DUC
Isabelle Walther-Duc is Program Assistant at the Sahel Research Group. She is in charge of the communication of the Sahel Research Group including publishing of the weekly newsletter, social media and updating SRG’s website. Isabelle holds a Master in Sociology from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and a Master in European Studies from the University of Southern Denmark. In her previous jobs, Isabelle has worked as social worker, office manager and French teacher. Isabelle’s interests lie in international issues and global dynamics. Her interest for Africa started when, as a student, she regularly traveled to Africa in countries such as Morocco, Mauritania, Niger and Mali. These travels as well as the various countries where she subsequently lived allowed her to develop her multicultural and interpersonal competencies. Languages: French, English, German and Danish (elementary knowledge).
Luke Whittingham is a Research Assistant at the Sahel Research Group. He received his Masters in French Studies from the University of Washington, and his joint B.A. in French and Spanish from the University of Washington. He is in charge of the communication of the Sahel Research Group including publishing of the weekly newsletter, social media and updating SRG’s website for the next year. His research focuses on indigenous identity politics, gender and sexuality in Senegal and Burkina Faso. He hopes to pursue a PhD in Anthropology in the coming year. Languages: Dutch, English, French, Korean, Spanish, Wolof (elementary knowledge).