About this Project First published over the course of more than twenty years (1751-1777), the 32 volumes of the Encyclopédie include 21 volumes of text with more than 70,000 articles on subjects ranging from asparagus to zodiac. The remaining 11 volumes contain beautifully engraved plates illustrating many of the articles. The Encyclopédie was the major achievement of the French Enlightenment whose aim, in Diderot's words, was to "change the common way of thinking" through the expansion of knowledge and the development of critical modes of thought. The Encyclopédie was a collaborative project, the work of a "society of men of letters," as its title page declared. By the time the last volume was published, more than 140 people had contributed articles to its pages.
Ajami is the centuries-old practice of using modified Arabic scripts to write non-Arabic languages. It comes from the Arabic word for foreigner or non-Arab and is used widely throughout West Africa for both religious and secular writings.
Ajami in the Senegambia makes accessible over 20 handwritten ajami manuscripts produced by West African scholars. The texts contain insightful discussions on mutual understanding between people of different faiths, races and ethnic backgrounds in Senegambia. They capture several Senegambian Muslim scholars' views on peaceful cohabitation, moderation and non-violence that have been a prominent feature of Senegambian communities.