Partnering with Assistant Professor Candace Keller of the Department of Art & Art History and the MSU Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, MATRIX will be participating in a project to digitize endangered, culturally significant photography archives in Mali. Dr. Keller and Scott Pennington, Head of Digitization and African Projects at MATRIX, have been awarded a grant from the British Library's Endangered Archive Programme to clean, digitize, catalogue, and preserve the negative archives of Abdourhamane Sakaly and Mamadou Cissé, among the earliest professional African photographers in Mali, West Africa.
These important, endangered archives contain rare visual documentation of traditional life (rural, ethnic-based customs, ceremonies, and artifacts), socio-political transformations, and processes of urban development in the Malian capital Bamako and its environs during the historical eras of French colonialism and political independence. Representing local perspectives, these images are significant for the social history and cultural heritage of Mali, the artistic legacy of these renowned photographers, scholarship on colonial and post-colonial histories, and studies of African art, culture, and aesthetics. Keller and Pennington will be traveling to Mali soon to begin training the photographers and project staff in digitization methods.