Professor of Political Science, University of Nouakchott, Mauritania

Political science

Octobre 2012 à Juin 2013


Dr. Zekeria Ahmed Salem is Professor of Political Science at the University of Nouakchott, Mauritania. He earned his Ph.D. from the Université de Lyon, France, in 1996. For 2005-2007, he served as General Secretary respectively at The Ministry of Higher Education, and The Ministry of Rural Development in Mauritania. In 2010-2011, he was the very first Mauritanian scholar to be granted the U.S. Fulbright Program Senior Scholar Fellowship (University of Florida). His research interests are in politics, religion and social transformation with a special focus on Africa and the Muslim world.

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"Slavery Between Past and Present: comparative perspective from the case study of the Haratines people in The Islamic Republic of Mauritania"

Contrary to the received wisdom, historically, the formal abolition of slavery has never put an end to the exploitation of the victims nor led to a genuine emancipation through free labor. In many settings over the world, the continuing importance of traditional social hierarchies made it even harder for many to overcome the servile status. Nowadays, scholars and international organizations alike agree on the fact that, in spite of the so-called triumph of human rights and the rule of law, at least in few instances, slavery has just been reconfigured into new forms of servitude including that of bondage, descent-based discrimination or mere “modern-day slavery”. Drawing on the case study of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a small country straddling sub-Saharan and North Africa, this project aims to an exploration of the various ways in which the legacy of slavery has been and still is altogether experienced, debated and challenged peacefully by the haratines, an Arab-speaking group made-up of people from slave descent. I analyze their social movement, their identity-politics and their political and religious struggles over the past thirty years. The projet aims to an exploration of the often unquestioned concept of “modern-day slavery” as well as the entanglements of various key general issues such as unfree labor, freedom, human rights, citizenship, subjectivity, and personhood.


AHMED SALEM, Zekeria. Prêcher dans le Désert: Islam et mutations sociales en Mauritanie.Paris : Karthala, à paraitre en décembre 2012.

AHMED SALEM, Zekeria. The paradoxes of Islamic Radicalization in Mauritania. In JOFFE, Goerge (éd.) Islamist Radicalisation in North Africa, Politics and Process, London, Routledge, 2011,pp. 179-206.

AHMED SALEM, Zekeria. Militants aux pieds nus: transformations du mouvement social des Harâtines de Mauritanie. Canadian Journal of African Studies/Revue Canadienne d’Etudes Africaines, Octobre 2010, vol 44, No. 2, p. 283-316

AHMED SALEM, Zekeria. Bare-foot activists: Transformations of The Haratines Movement in Mauritania. In ELLIS, Stephen, VAN KESSEL, Ineke (eds.). Movers and Shakers: Social Movements in Africa. Leiden : Brill Academic Publishers, 2009.

AHMED SALEM, Zekeria. Les Trajectoires d’un Etat-frontière : Espaces, évolutions politiques et transformations sociales en Mauritanie. Dakar : CODESRIA Book Series, 2004.