UCLA » College » Social Sciences » History
Grad Students

Madina Thiam

Contact Information

Email    mthiam@ucla.edu
Office  Bunche 2155


Why is a neighborhoud in Bamako named after Egypt, while a neighborhood in Cairo is named after a province of the Mali empire? What connects Mecca to Jamaica? My dissertation tackles these questions by examining  mobility and Islam in Mali and the Western Sahel in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

In 2016-2018, I served as co-editor-in-chief of Ufahamu: a Journal of African Studies, along with Janice R. Levi

Prospective students: feel free to email me if you have any questions! 

Read More

Fields of Study

  • Islam in the Sahel and Sahara; 
  • The Black Atlantic; 
  • New Imperial History. 


My research focuses on the global circulation of people and ideas from the Western Sahel. My dissertation, entitled "From Mecca to Jamaica: Sahelian Itineraries and Imaginaries," is centered around the trajectories and writings of a set of Muslim travelers (enslaved, pilgrims, merchants and scholars) from present-day Mali.


Peer-reviewed Encyclopedia Article

Book Section

  • 2019 "Nicholas Said, étonnant voyageur," in Sahara Connecté (Paris: Gallimard) --- forthcoming


Media & Public Engagement

Grants and Awards

Conference Presentations

    Academic Conferences & Workshops

    • 2019 Forum Transregionale Studien Workshop (June 6-7, Berlin, Germany)
    • 2018 Global Africa and Ethnographies of Interconnection Workshop: "Unveiling Silences, Reconnecting Historiographies: Using 19th-century Sahelian Narratives to Write Global History" (Apr. 20-21, Cornell, NY, USA)
    • 2017 International Conference of the Dakar Institute of African Studies: "African Men of Letters, Atlantic Slavery, and the Intellectual History of the Sahel, 19th and 20th c." (Jul. 7-8, 2017, Dakar, Senegal)
    • 2017 ULCA HGSA Conference: "Empire State of Mind: Best of Intentions, Unsolicited Interventions, and the 2012 Crisis in Mali" (Apr. 14, Los Angeles, CA, USA)
    • 2016 African Studies Association Conference: "A Trail of Scented Salams: Migrating and Settling along the Tarīq-al-Sūdān in the 19th and 20th centuries" (Dec. 1-3, Washington DC, USA)
    • 2016 University of Bern 'Transpositions' Summer School: "Westerners along the Nile: West African Muslims in Sudan in the 19th and 20th centuries" (Sept. 4-7, Kandersteg, Switzerland)

    Invited Talks

    • 2018 UCLA HIST 166A "West African Islamic Intellectual History" (Nov. 9, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

    Public Outreach

    • 2017 UNESCO World Heritage Young Professionals Forum: “Memory: Lost and Recovered Heritage” (Jun. 25 - Jul. 4, Warsaw & Krakow, Poland) [Photos] [Video] [Video]
    • 2016 UCLA Futures of History Conference: "The Futures of History: What Do We See and Envision?" (Feb. 25-26, Los Angeles, CA, USA)


    C. Phil., History, UCLA,  2018
    M.A., History, UCLA, 2017
    B.A., History and International Affairs, Economics Minor, George Washigton University, 2012