Citizen Perspectives on Societal Challenges in Mali

The programme Perspectives citoyennes des défis de société au Mali is a five year project funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Bamako on behalf of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), 2022-2026. It is led by the Forum for Africa Studies at Uppsala University, and will be implemented in collaboration with Swedish and Malian partners. The programme is the outcome of years of working with Malian researchers and students on key problems in local arenas in Mali. In such collaborative research projects, particular attention has been paid to engaged research, such as the studies of security and safety from below in two Malian municipalities (2017), of municipal democracy in the Sahel (2019), and to the Malian crisis and transition (forthcoming). Methodologically and practically, it furthermore draws on collaborative research carried out in Burkina Faso, notably on sociopolitical transformations, published in English as "Nothing will be as before" (2017, 2018), security from below (2019), and women leadership (2021). 

The programme leader is Sten Hagberg, Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Director of Forum for Africa Studies, who has also been in charge of developing the programme. At Uppsala University, he will be supported by a coordinator and a financial officer. In Mali, the research lab LACET at the Institut des Sciences Humaines, will be the main actor leading the programme, including coordination, logistics, and management. Collaboration will be developed with the public universities, as well as, with actors engaged with communication and public debate, including Centre Djoliba and Studio Tamani.

The main objective is to promote citizen perspectives through the implementation of engaged research, the organization of citizen debates and the capacity building of young researchers. Particular attention will be paid to the promotion of women leaders as researchers, teachers and opinion leaders.

The programme is composed of two parts:

  1. The implementation of strategic studies and citizen debates, in particular the documentation and analysis of citizen perspectives of the challenges of Malian society. The results of the strategic studies will then be presented to the general public and published in the form of books accessible to non-specialists, “briefs” or podcasts/television programs in different Malian languages.
  2. The strengthening of networks between Malian and Swedish educational research institutions in order to develop partnerships between research teams from two countries. The programme will also organize on-site training workshops in Mali on research methodology, project conceptualization, data analysis and scientific writing.

List of main events implemented or planned

  • 20 February-23 February 2024, Oulia Makkonen was in Bamako, working with the Malian team: Baba Coulibaly, Amadou Diabate, and Mahamadou Kante on the implementation of seven Swedish-Malian seed money projects.
  • 15 January-15 February 2024, Visiting PhD Student Lucie Bello, Institut de pédagogie universitaire in Bamako, Mali, is in Uppsala. On 9 February, she will present her research at a hybrid Friday Seminar.
  • 4-15 January 2024, Sten Hagberg worked in Bamako to prepare the upcoming international conference in June 2024. More info, here. Hagberg also met with the Embassy of Sweden as to be informed about how to address the phasing out of development aid to Mali, decided upon by the governement of Sweden.
  • 21 December 2024, Swedish Governemnt decided to phase out development cooperation with Mali, and Burkina Faso. Sten Hagberg protested against the decision in Swedish and Burkinabe media: Regeringen öppnar för Ryssland i Afrika, and "Une décision malheureuse".
  • 14-15 December 2023, the Sahel Symposium was organised in Uppsala jointly by Uppsala University's Forum for Africa Studies and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
  • 13-17 November 2023, Oulia Makkonen traveled to Bamako to work with the new Coordinator of Component 2, Dr. Amadou Diabate.
  • In December 2023, and after a thorough assessment process by an international expert panel, seven Malian-Swedish seed money research projects were approved.
  • 21-25 August 2023: Working Workshop on Malian Women's Political Participation.
  • 2-4 May 2023: Post-fieldwork workshop with 13 researchers who are participating in the study of Malian women's political participation.
  • 24-28 April 2023: International Workshop, inlcuding research presentations, working groups, and networking, with Swedish and Malian Researchers at the Institut des Sciences Humaines, Bamako.
  • Jan.-April 2023: Joint fieldwork on women's political participation in municipalities across Mali.
  • 17 Jan. 2023: Official launching of the programme Citizen Perspectives in Mali will take place at the Institut des Sciences Humaines, Bamako, Mali in the presence of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Prof. Amadou Keïta, and the Ambassador of Sweden in Mali, H.E. Ms Kristina Kühnel.
  • 13-14 Jan. 2023: Pre-Fieldwork Workshop for the study of Women's Political Participation jointly led at the Institut des Sciences Humaines by Sten Hagberg and Yaouaga Félix Koné.
  • 14 Dec.-15 Dec. 2022: Stakeholders Meeting at Uppsala University, including a Symposium, and an information & network meeting.
  • 14 Dec. 2022: An International Symposium on Citizen Perspectives in Mali at Uppsala University.
  • 31 Oct.-4 Nov. 2022:  A contact mission was carried out by Sten Hagberg and Oulia Makkonen in Mali including meetings with the Minister of Highed Education and Scientific Research, Vice-Chancellors of three Bamako Universities, the Embassy of Sweden, the Centre Djoliba, and, of course the Institut des Sciences Humaines, the Malian focal point; the LACET research lab had an important meeting regarding programme implementation.
  • 20 Oct. 2022: Désiré Ballo, Programme Officier at the Embassy of Sweden in Mali, made a working visit to Uppsala University to further project planning with the Uppsala team.
  • 12 Aug. 2022: The Programme was signed by the Embassy of Sweden and Uppsala University.


Symposium on CITIZEN PERSPECTIVES IN MALI, 14 Dec. 2022, with Maria Grosz-Ngaté, Bintou Koné, Mariame Sidibé, and Sten Hagberg.


On 22 August 2022, a strategic planning meeting was organized in Bamako with LACET/Mali (from left to right): Bintou Koné, N'gna Traoré, Baba Coulibaly, Yaouaga Félix Koné, Sten Hagberg, Fatoumata Camara and Almamy Sylla.


Planning Meeting with LACET/Mali on 22 August 2022



Visiting PhD Student Lucie Bello, Institut de pédagogie universitaire, Mali, is sojourning at Forum for Africa Studies 15 Jan-15 Feb 2024. Join her hybrid seminar on 9 Feb, 9.15-10.30. Click on the image


The launching took place at ISH in Bamako, on 17 Jan.2023; 70 people attended the lauching that was presided by Ambassador HE Ms Kristina Kühnel, and the Representative of Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Prof. Amadou Keïta. More info click on the image


Sten Hagberg at the audience with Minister Amadou Keïta (to the left) and Chief of Cabinet Yacouba Kébé, on 3 Nov. 2022.


Oulia Makkonen and Baba Coulibaly at the audience at the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research on 3 Nov 2022.


Richard Bomboma, Head of Development Cooperation at the Embassy of Sweden in Mali, and Sten Hagberg, Director of Forum for Africa Studies at Uppsala University, signing the agreement.


After a long process of preparation, the project is finally signed. Bravo!!!


Désiré Ballo, Sten Hagberg, Richard Bomboma, and Altiné Coulibaly, at the signing ceremony at the Embassy of Sweden on 12 August 2022.


Sten Hagberg, Director of the LACET, together with LACET-Mali at the Institut des Sciences Humaines, in September 2020, while doing research on the 2020 Malian Crisis. Standing from left to right: Fatoumata Camara, Bintou Koné, Almamy Sylla, N'gna Traoré, Sten Hagberg, LACET-Mali Coordinator Baba Coulibaly, and Yaouaga Félix Koné. In front are the students Fanta Traoré, Sidy Diallo, and Salimata Coulibaly.