Texts, Knowledge, and Practice: The Meaning of Scholarship in Muslim Africa


Thursday, February 16, 2017 (All day) to Saturday, February 18, 2017 (All day)


Sperry Room, Harvard Divinity School, Andover Hall 116, 45 Francis Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

Conference co-chairs Professor Ousmane Kane and PhD Candidate Matthew Steele

Texts, Knowledge, and Practice: The Meaning of Scholarship in Muslim Africa

Sitting at the intersection of African, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies, Islam in Africa has long suffered from a crisis of disciplinary identity. Neither strictly area nor solely religious studies, Islam in Africa has only recently received attention within the academy. The shift is overdue. Africa has influenced scholarship throughout the Islamic World for better than a millennium. With the spread of Arabic literacy, African scholars developed a rich tradition of debate over orthodoxy and meaning in Islam. The rise of such a tradition was hardly disconnected from centers of Islamic learning outside of Africa. From Mecca to Sind, African scholars have played significant roles in the development of virtually every field of Islamic sciences.

Islamic scholarship in Africa remains as significant today. By the end of the twentieth century, thousands of integrated curriculum schools and dozens of modern Islamic universities have redefined Islamic studies across Sub-Saharan Africa. The spread of communications technology has reshaped Islamic scholarship still further. New representations of Islamic scholarship have formed across Africa through teaching websites, mp3s, and social media apps. The emergence of these new spaces, both physical and virtual, holds the potential for recasting notions of class, authority, canon, and orthodoxy common to the study of Islamic scholarship in Africa today.  
This conference aims to rethink how such an evolution occurred. It will be the first of two meetings, both intended to bring together specialists from Western academia and the Islamic World. The first will explore the ways in which Islamic scholarship integrated Africa in the Islamic world, as well as the interconnections between West, North, and Saharan Africa on the one hand, and East Africa and Western Asia on the other hand.

Drawn from a variety of disciplines, including history, Islamic studies, anthropology, philosophy, religious studies, and political science, conference participants will explore six main themes. The first theme is: History, Movement and the Spread of Islamic Scholarship; the second: Courts, Colonialism, and Islamic Law in Africa, the third: Authors, Texts, and Islamic Scholarship; the fourth: Contemporary Expressions of Islamic Scholarship in Africa; the fifth: Vernacular in both text and Verse; and the sixth and last panel deals with Quranic education.

For the complete schedule, go to: http://hds.harvard.edu/texts-knowledge-and-practice-meaning-scholarship-muslim-africa/schedule
Read the panelist's bios here: http://hds.harvard.edu/texts-knowledge-and-practice-meaning-scholarship-muslim-africa/panelists-bio

Sponsors: Harvard Divinity School, the Center for African Studies, the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, the Department of African and African American Studies, the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program, the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC), the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Islam in Africa Speaker Series.

Link: http://hds.harvard.edu/texts-knowledge-practice-africa
Contact: Matthew Steele