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The Historic "Core Curriculum" And The Book Market In Islamic West Africa

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Chapter Summary

Much work has been done to map out the contours of Islamic intellectual production in West Africa before the twentieth century. This chapter describes the books - by author and title - that were in heaviest demand by doing an inventory of the contents of a cross-section of West African libraries. The working assumption in the chapter is that the extant copies of manuscripts that appear in the largest numbers across representative libraries from the Atlantic to northern Nigeria are a good indication of the most widely studied subjects and texts across the Sahel. These works - "core curriculum" - were likely at the center of any regional book market. The Arabic Manuscript Management System (AMMS) database of extant manuscripts allows us to identify a "core curriculum" common to the southern Sahara and West Africa that likely overlapped in large part with the books in greatest demand.

Keywords: Arabic Manuscript Management System (AMMS); Islamic West Africa; Sahelian core curriculum; West African bookmarket



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