Islam in Global Africa Conference - April 23, 2018


The Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) at Northwestern University invites proposals for a conference to be held in Evanston (IL USA) from April 23 to 24, 2018.



Studies of “Global Africa” seldom deal with religion, let alone with Islam. Conversely, scholarship on global Islam tends to give the impression that Africa is a mere periphery of the so-called Muslim world. As a result, Islamic Africa is often perceived as the continent other Muslim countries and networks act upon, with African Muslims often seen as passive consumers of foreign influences and pressures. Scholars of Islam in Africa have successfully challenged such ahistorical assumptions. Yet, scholarship on globalization of Islamic Africa has been focused either on merely describing (if not romanticizing) African Muslims’ experiences abroad, on one hand, or on exploring how Muslim societies in Africa are affected by global Islamic trends, on the other hand. Therefore, little attention has been paid to African Muslims’ practices, thoughts, and connections as these relate to both globalized and localized religious, social and political trends.

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore the multiple dimensions of Islam in global Africa. We invite scholars to submit papers focusing on how the meaning of Islam and what it means to be African and Muslim has been and is being negotiated at the intersection of local, regional and global encounters, narratives, perceptions and exchanges. While we welcome proposals focusing on Islamic Africa’s global and local interactions through circulations of people, ideas, goods, beliefs and practices in any time period, we especially encourage original research that investigates creatively the interplay between the religious, political or social experiences of African Muslims and the transformations of Islamic Africa in a globalized world. We also hope to include papers which examine the importance of transnational Muslim networks in Africa and the role Africans play in global Islamic arenas.

Questions that we seek to investigate include but are not limited to: How to account for the dynamics of continuity and change in forms of Islamic piety, authority and knowledge production in Africa, in a context of increased global connections? How do African Muslims articulate their religious life in a globalized world? For African Muslims in the diaspora, how do religious links with their homelands shape their relationship to Islam? How do diasporic religious or non-religious experiences affect or alter aspects of lived Islam in Africa? To what extent has the interaction between the so-called Muslim world and Africa shaped Islamic practices and thought or the perception of the so-called Umma? How do African Muslims navigate notions of Africa and Islam, faith, foreignness and modernity in a globalized world? How does the racialization of the Muslim world implicit in what Cemil Aydin calls “the idea of the Muslim world” play out in African contexts; conversely, how much of “the idea of the Muslim world” intersects or conflicts with conceptions of race, belonging or religious community in Islamic Africa?

Submission Guidelines:

Paper proposals should be sent to on or before February 19, 2018. Proposals should include an abstract of no more than 300 words and a title, as well as the author’s name, email address, and institutional affiliation. Please also attach an updated Curriculum Vitae. Proposals from advanced graduate students and recent PhDs are especially welcomed. Some financial support may be available to cover travel costs for invited participants, particularly from overseas. Participants will be notified of their acceptance by February 28, 2018. We expect those selected to submit a complete version of their paper to the conference organizers on or before April 6, 2018.

Conference Organizers:

  • Zekeria Ahmed Salem, Director, ISITA and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University
  • Brannon Ingram, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies, Northwestern

General queries may be sent to: