The Sahara is an area that mostly falls through conceptual grids since African Studies are concerned with the Sub-Saharan, and the Middle East or the Arab World considers the Sahara lying on the outer edge. The Sahara, however, represents large-scale, long-distance, and long-term patterns of connections and interdependence with the Maghreb and the Sahel and is composed of densely interdependent networks. (McDougall, James and Scheele, Judith, eds. 2012: Saharan Frontiers. Space and Mobility in Northwest Africa. Bloomington/Indiana: Indiana Press)

The Sahara is not a marginal region. It is neither a barrier, dividing the Mediterranean and Maghreb from the sub-Saharan Africa, nor it is only a bridge for a gap that must simply be crossed. In the Sahara influences from North and South have been merged and originated in new cultural assemblages, social networks, and relationships.


The Tuareg live in the Central Sahara and the Sahel, they speak a Berber language, Tamasheq/Tamahaq, have an unique writing called Tifinagh, and their original territory of the Tuareg is split into Libya, Algeria, Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

The Tuareg have been experts in mobility, transnationality and in establishing an overall connectivity between Maghreb, Sahara and Sahel for centuries, such as managing the caravan trade. Through colonization and decolonization the former territory of the Tuareg has been split into five nation states, and their radius of moving has been limited and restricted. The territorial cut in combination with the ecological disorder through droughts and famine, and local and supra-local attempts to enforce political hegemony has turned the life of the Tuareg in into a rather challenging position.

The Tuareg are confronted with a dramatic decrease of their originally mostly nomadic way of life and they are forced to switch to urban lifestyles, or pushed into making transnational border crossings in order to gain a living.

Contemporary economic, political, and social issues of the Tuareg are in the focus of Ines´ research. The Tuareg´s lifeways in the Sahara are a matter of linkage and merge of several strategies clarifying the connectivity between Maghreb, Sahara and Sahel.

Since migration of West Africans has increased, and Agadez in Northern Niger has become a main hub for two bunches of trajectories through the Sahara, Ines is dealing the development of the transnational border business and with local impacts of Europe´s disputable externalisation politics.