Living Leo Scholars:

Here is a list of the few 'living' Leo scholars, academics and thinkers: people who dedicate some or all of their time to the advancement of Leo scholarship. Please contact them at your own discretion... If you know another Leo scholar not mentioned on this site, please contact me at

Khalid Bekkaoui,
Mr. Bekkaoui is a Moroccan Professor of English Literature in Fes. He is currently editing of a 16th century British Play, Lust's Dominion, and he suspects one the play's characters was based on Leo Africanus.

Natalie Davis,
Mrs Davis is currently working on a book analyzing the "styles of cultural mixture in the 16th and 18th centuries". One of the 4 figures she examines is Leo Africanus and his "braided identity".

Martin Elbl, Ivana Elbl and others working on the Leo Project
Mr Elbl can be reached at His team of historians, geographers and computer scientists are working hard to bring Leo's travels to 'digital life'. They plan to build "an interactive multi-media e-book, based on on a digital atlas and offering the first modern English version" of the Description of Africa. The 'temporary' site currently available gives a thorough and inviting description of the project to come.
Mrs Elbl is the administrative head of the project (also heads Otonabee College) and can be reached at

Mohammed Hajji
Mr. Hajji was one of the two Moroccan scholars having first translated Leo's work into Arabic. He ran the Moroccan association for writing, translation and publishing-an association which promotes the publication of Moroccan works. This Association can be reached in Rabat:
53 Rue Allal Bin Abd Allah
Rabat 10000, Maroc
Tel. 212-37-70.48.18
Professor Hajji died in 2002- he will be greatly missed by the congregation of Leo scholars...

Pekka Masonen,
Dr. Masonen is a lecturer at the University of Tampere, Finland (Department of History). He has done extensive research on the life and travels of Leo Africanus, in particular as they relate to sub-saharan Africa. Visit the Bibliography section of this website to read his latest article on Leo: "Leo Africanus- the man with many names"

Dietrich Rauchenberger,
Mr Rauchenberger is the most 'rigorous' Leo scholar alive, and his work attests to the impressive research he conducted on the matter. His greatest contribution is the systematic comparison of Ramusio's 1550 edition and Leo's original manuscript- to reveal errors in Ramusio's adaptation, and centuries of misinterpretations of Leo's words! His latest work Johannes Leo der Afrikaner
draws on Italian archives to offer a most comprehensive biography of Leo.

Oumelbanine Zhiri,
Mrs. Zhiri is another impressive academic authority on Leo. She is author of several books and articles on Leo, all of which are listed in the Bibliography. She is a Professor in the Literature Department of the University of California at San Diego. Miss Zhiri is originally Moroccan- though her life adventures are not unlike Leo's...

Scholars in Morocco:
In 2003, Francois Pouillon ( organized an international meeting of Leo experts. Here are the names of Moroccan scholars who participated:
Ahmed Boucharb,
Abdelmajid Kaddouri,
Driss Mansouri,
Houari Touati,
Mohammed Kenbib, he worked on Jewish-Muslim relations in Morocco. He writes: "Il me semble que ce que Léon a écrit sur les Juifs citadins et leurs coreligionnaires de l'Atlas devrait avoir sa place dans votre site". Indeed Leo wrote about certain Jewish communities living in remote Atlas regions and who rode horses (in spite of Royal decrees against this..).

Scholars in France
In 2003, Francois Pouillon ( organized an international meeting of Leo experts. Here are the names of French scholars who participated:
Idrissa Ba, Doctorant en Histoire à l'Université de Paris. Mène des recherches sur la problématique de la présence juive au Sahara et au Soudan au Moyen - Age. Léon l'Africain est une de ses sources.

Alain Roussillon,
Jeanne Chiche,
Jocelyne Dakhlia,
François-Xavier Fauvelle,
Ali BenMakhlouf,
Frank Lestringant,
Bertrand Hirsch,
Claude Lfeebure,

Daniel Nordman,

Dominique Caubet,
Jacob Oliel,

Bernard ROSENBERGER: 107 rue du Faubourg Boutonnet, 34090 Montpellier

Scholars in Italy
Frederico Cresti,

Scholars in Spain
Fernando Mdeiano,