Sophie Sarin joined HMML in 2019 and is based in London. Born in Sweden, Sarin lived and worked in Mali from 2006 to 2017, during which time she operated a boutique hotel in Djenné and founded a local studio that designed and produced clothing woven and decorated with traditional Malian dyes. Her interest in manuscript preservation stemmed from her involvement in the local community and its interest in preserving the library of ancient manuscripts of Djenné.
Prior to joining HMML, she set up and managed digitization projects for the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) of the British Library in Djenné from 2009 to 2017. HMML joined forces with the EAP in 2017 and the Endangered Libraries in Timbuktu (ELIT) project was set up with Sarin as manager to digitize manuscripts that remained in Timbuktu. In 2019, the EAP completed its two-year commitment to ELIT, but Sarin continued as the ELIT project manager, now employed by HMML. In 2020, she returned to Djenné and set up HMML’s new Endangered Libraries in Djenné (ELID) project and oversee the local field teams in Djenné and Timbuktu.
Sarin holds a BA in French from the University of London and a MA in Fashion Design and a MPhil in the History of Design from the Royal College of Art, London. She has authored articles on design history and the efforts to preserve the ancient manuscripts of Djenné and Timbuktu. She has been featured in international media as a source for insight on the current political situation in Mali and related Malian manuscript preservation efforts.
What she appreciates about her work: “I realize how very important it is to continue this work in a place that is still suffering great insecurity. It is important not only for the preservation of these precious documents, but also for the continued morale and cohesion of the social fabric, not to mention the fact that it brings work to these towns where work is scarce.”