Several recent studies have argued that the Muslim world has many elements of "civil society." What is implicit in these studies is the primary source material generated within civil society and on which these studies are based. These sources are still to be investigated, especially when referring to the pre-digital era. This project focuses on Sahelo-Saharan Africa and on that region's manuscripts, which were the embodiment of civil society discourses produced and circulated in the pre-digital era, such as legal disputes, Sufi polemics and commercial networks. Timbuktu, a symbol of the intellectual and civic culture of Sahelo-Saharan Africa, as well as a major centre of manuscript archives, will be the case study selected to conduct an enquiry into civil society in the region. It will be the main focus, as it can be considered a node in a widespread network of scholars, scribes, manuscripts, and ideas, which moved across the broader region. The aim of this project is to survey and study a body of manuscripts reflecting prominent discourses produced by and debates around Sahelo-Saharan civil society.