Researchers: Mirjam de Bruijn & Mamoudou Goita
Affiliation: Leiden University/ASCL & IRPAD


Fulani live widespread over the Sahelian countries from West to Central Africa. They are transnational and transborderly organised. Retailly & Walthers (2003) argued that the old networks based on caravan routes, and travelling, are still an existing communication network in West and Central Africa. They linked this to the explanation of criminal and jihadist networks as they developed over the past decades. The historical layers of these networks is the starting point for our research. We assume that although the Fulani groups are very diverse, they developed different ways to connect and exchange information as part of their history. Furthermore the new connectivity that was emerging over the past two decades through the establishment of mobile phone networks have added another and fast layer of possible network communication. In this research project we are interested in these historical layers of communication and especially how they are informing the connections between Fulani groups, Fulani associations, jihadic movements, etc. We discern different techniques of communication: travelling (marabouts, herders, people who search for information); trade; mobile communication; and others still to be discovered.  In our research we will take as starting point for these networks these foci: Mali (the areas around Mopti, Bankass and Bougouni/Sikasso), Burkina Faso, Niger and Northern Cameroon/Tchad. We will as well work from the new movements that we have already depicted in previous research: Deewral Pulaaku, APESS; taabital Pulaaku; the group around Baaba Ladde (Tchad); and others still to be discovered and we will follow individuals from these organisation and within these networks and map their connectivities. We hope to find an answer to the question if the different movements of Fulani are indeed international and co-influencing each other, or if these are non-related and self-steered organisations.

Activities over time

  1. Oktober ‘16 to Januari ’17: development of proposal
  2. 2017: various visits to the different regions and search on internet/facebook etc.
  3. Every half year we will write a short update
  4. Publication in 2018

Deliverables over time

  1. Semester reports
  2. 2018: two articles and policy briefs
  3. Regular blogs (after each field trip)
  4. Participation in workshops of the project and as much as possible as well outside (for this no planning is fixed yet)