Interview with Alessandra Fiorentini

The Tahajara of the Khalwatiyya among the Tuaregs of the Aïr
Alessandra Fiorentini - Louis Dumont
Alessandra Fiorentini

Alessandra Fiorientini is the 2022 winner of the Louis Dumont Fund for her project entitled "The Tahajara of the Khalwatiyya among the Tuaregs of the Aïr. Between preserving traditional Islam and politico-religious resistance in Niger". In this interview, Alessandra talks about her project, her career and the impact of the Louis Dumont Fund on her career. (Interview in French)

After an initial training at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (PISAI) in Rome, where she specialized in the analysis of Arabic and Persian manuscripts, Alessandra Fiorentini furthered her education in social anthropology at EHESS, with a particular interest in the anthropology of Islam and issues of religion, gender, and power. Her research method combines long-term ethnographic work with historical research on written and oral sources. After extensive fieldwork in the Middle East and Central Asia, she began a new comparative study in West Africa, specifically in Niger.

The research

"This research aims to study the Tahajara, a complex ritual, but still too little studied, of a Sufi brotherhood of Tuareg Islam (the Khalwatiyya) in Niger, and more specifically in the Aïr massif. The field investigation will collect ethnographic material for an anthropological monograph on one of the most important ritual manifestations in the Tuareg political and religious world. The envisioned ethnography is based on participant observation of the tahajara rituals, but also on the collection of life stories of the participants, as well as work in written and oral archives to which the head of the Tuareg confederation, the Anastafidet, and the Sultan of the Aïr, Oumarou Ibrahim Oumarou, based in the city of Agadez, granted me personal access during my first field research in the region in 2018"

Published at 27 October 2023