Re-discovering the de Gironcourt collection of West African Arabic manuscripts

Book History Seminars
14 August 2013

14:00  – IFAS Conference Room, 62 Juta Street, Braamfontein


Mauro Nobili
University of Cape Town

During a mission in the French Soudan dated 1911-12, the ingégnieur-agronome George de Gironcourt collected a number of manuscripts written in the Arabic language. Eventually these manuscripts were donated at the Institut de France in Paris. The de Gironcourt collection has been neglected by the scholars of West Africa and still remains an untouched repository of very relevant works on African history and culture. The presentation, based on the forthcoming catalogue of the de Gironcourt manuscript, will present the explorer’s mission and the collection which resulted from it, also providing a window on the manuscript culture of the Niger Bend as well as a picture of the area during the colonial period.


Mauro Nobili is a specialist in West African history and Arabic manuscripts. He is a post-doctoral fellow affiliated to HUMA (UCT) within the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project as well as to the Department of Religious Studies. His current research focuses on the Arabic script styles displayed by West African manuscripts.