This panel considers Islamic architecture in West Africa through the lens of contemporary heritage. In doing so, it seeks to unpack the discourses and dialogues that currently inform this topic with regards to how the histories, narratives, and material processes of these spaces are being handled by various stakeholders who have defined both “Islam” and “heritage” in highly differentiated ways. This situation warrants deeper scrutiny. For example, what constitutes Islamic architectural heritage in the eyes of the state? How does this differ from the way scholars or community members might view such heritage? In addition, what constitutes success in architectural preservation programs? What strategies are there to prevent the destruction (either by intention or by neglect) of architectural monuments? One might even consider how international and global politics and flows have affected views of Islamic architectural heritage in West Africa in the contemporary period.

Other questions to consider include:
– How does one define authenticity (traditional forms and/or traditional materials) from the perspectives of stakeholders?
– What role does traditional architecture play in community politics or in the politics of community?
– What are the benefits of UNESCO World Heritage designations? What are the pitfalls?
– How might one successfully combine architectural preservation with economic development (tourism)?

To be considered for this panel, please submit a paper title, your institutional affiliation and 200-word abstract to: Barbara Frank and Michelle Apotsos by no later than March 1.