Mentao Refugee Camp. Image by Peter Chilson. Mali, 2012.

Washington State University's Peter Chilson traveled to Mali for his Pulitzer Center-Foreign Policy borderlands project and unexpectedly ended up in a war zone. The resulting e-book, slated for release in December, chronicles his personal account of reporting on the 2012 summer coup and rebellion in Mali, building on his Pulitzer Center-sponsored reporting in West Africa.

In an interview with WSU News, Chilson recalls his arrival in Mali just days after a counter coup had been mounted against regular armed forces in south Mali: "I can hear all of this from my hotel—machine gun fire, mortar fire, it’s all going on...I traveled as much of the city as I could on foot and by car, but the army restricted the areas where the fighting was most intense." Chilson said, "there were lots of tense situations so I was used to negotiating my way through that…but I’ve never seen a coup.”

Chilson began traveling to West Africa in 1985 as a Peace Corps teacher in Niger, and has since published two books on the region. The Pulitzer Center-Foreign Policy e-book will be his third. The e-book is tentatively titled "We Never Knew Exactly Where: Dispatches from A Borderland in Africa.”

Chilson's reporting from Mali and the e-book are part of the Pulitzer Center-Foreign Policy partnership for a series of reports on borderlands, culminating in the publication of e-books on the topic. The work reflects a broader Pulitzer Center initiative addressing this topic on multiple media platforms and with a variety of approaches. See all Pulitzer Center e-books released to date.

Project

Europeans drew Africa’s borders long ago. Today these lines are often deserted and sometimes dangerous. Mali is the legacy: A crumbling state, rump of ancient empire between desert and forest.

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