Apotsos, Michelle Moore. "Timbuktu in Terror: Architecture and Iconoclasm in Contemporary Africa." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 6, Number 1 (pp. 97-120) , edited by Mohammad Gharipour, Bristol: Intellect, 2017.
In March 2012, the West African nation of Mali experienced a military coup that paved the way for a regional Islamic coalition known as Ansar Dine to seize control of the northern parts of the country. After imposing a highly conservative form of Islamic governance on the region, Ansar Dine went on to perpetrate numerous violent and devastating acts upon the architectural landscape in and around Timbuktu in the name of that doctrine. Yet the nature of the architectural sites selected for destruction, and the performative, almost ritualistic quality of these processes of erasure, suggest that perhaps the impetus behind Ansar Dine’s actions were less straightforward. This article explores the motivations behind Ansar Dine’s iconoclastic programme in Timbuktu through the lens of the city’s identity as both a historical intersection of global currents and a contemporary site of international heritage. Viewed through the lens of these identities, Ansar Dine’s destructive campaign extends beyond an exercise in religious orthodoxy to become a mode of self-fashioning a globally extremist identity.