Understanding a 'Broken World'

Islam, Ritual, and Climate Change in Mali, West Africa


  • Dianna Bell Vanderbilt University




Islam, climate change, ritual, Mali


In the early twenty-first century, an increasing number of Muslims in the West African state of Mali turned to religious rituals in an effort to stop the desertification of the Sahel and return to the temperate climate of the past. In order to better understand the relationship between Islam and climate change, I draw from ethnographic research to account for the perspectives and religious interpretations that civilians in southwestern Mali had for West Africa’s drying climate. In what follows, I show that Muslims in Mali commonly accounted for climate change in terms of social and political conflicts. My research, moreover, documents the ritual practices that Muslims used in their everyday lives to peacefully manage the negative consequences of their increasingly arid environment.


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How to Cite

Bell, D. (2014). Understanding a ’Broken World’: Islam, Ritual, and Climate Change in Mali, West Africa. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, 8(3), 287–306. https://doi.org/10.1558/jsrnc.v8i3.287