333 Saints: A Life of Scholarship in Timbuktu
In the mid-16th century, Timbuktu established its reputation as a center of Islamic learning, hosting more than 150 schools for science, literature and religious studies. Large collections of books and manuscripts existed, some gathered into central collections, but even more carefully tended by local families intent on preserving this heritage. American photographer Alexandra Huddleston, supported by a Fulbright fellowship, spent 10 months in Timbuktu in 2006-2007 photographing contemporary life and documenting scholarly and religious culture. This book features 36 of her best images, with commentaries. The fact that a young American woman could be accepted into the local culture and allowed to make these photographs is striking evidence of the openness, tolerance and moderation that has long characterized Islam in West Africa, despite the more recent actions of a small, militant minority.