Echagh: The Well

Filmmaker:  Souleymane Diallo

Year of production: 2008
Location: Echgah, Mali
Duration: 32.5 minutes
Sound: mono
English Subtitles

Echagh ( the well ) is a research  film  on a Tuareg’ Fraction called Igorareine. They live in a locality called Echgah situated to 40 km in the northest from Gao, nothern Mali. They are basically look after sheep, goats, camels, cattle,  and have been practising a nomadic life for generations.

Nowadays, some of them are about to leave  this ancestral way of life due to many loss of animals caused  by the desertification of the Sahara. That is how they settled in the surrounding of a colonial well, called Echgh in 1988.

A decade later, they created a primary school for their children. Since then, they are thinking about another way of life. But it should be noticed that this newly introduced school system is subject of many interpretations in Echagh. Some of them believe  in other opportunities that school may bring about. In contrast others see it as a device which threatens their traditional  way of life. Within such a divergent context, the film explores the life choices  of three kids.

Copyright: 2008  Visual Cultural Studies, University of Tromsø

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ABSTRACT This thesis is about how the Igorareine Tuareg are coping within transition in northern Mali. They are in a process to cease their nomadic way of life without having yet become fully sedentary. My focus is mainly on the strategies used within this transition, how they can transform their current situation into a better life and how the whole process affects the social relationships between kinsmen. The strategies identified are both the formal education and local knowledge. In my fieldwork I focus on the school, the setting for the introduction of formal knowledge, and on one family using traditional knowledge as their main coping strategy. Using participant observation and an observational film style as data collection methods enabled me to collect both text and non-text based data. An interdisciplinary approach is used to interpret my empirical material in this thesis. The main theoretical sources are: relationship between power and knowledge (Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu), Modernity and identity (Anthony Giddens), the nation-state (Pierre Bourdieu, Ernest Gellner); Identity and belonging (Anthony Cohen), De-tribalization and re-tribalization (Abner Cohen). The film Echagh (the well) forms an integral part of this thesis.

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