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Islamic Matters in Africa and the Colonial Atlantic

During the 2021-2022 year, our faculty seminar will hold a series of readings, conversations, and invited lectures around the inaugural theme, “Islamic Matters in Africa and the Colonial Atlantic.” This theme brings together the study of material culture with intellectual history and humanistic expression. Through a focus on Africa and the colonial Atlantic, the theme seeks to displace “the Muslim question” from its geographic confinement in the Middle East and its ethnic association with Arab identity. This geographical focus will also create links between African studies and Middle Eastern studies, two fields traditionally separated by the historical boundaries of area studies. The theme will focus on material objects, from manuscripts and devotional objects to photography and fine art, forging interdisciplinary connections between the historians, literary scholars, and art historians in the group. Bridging these disciplinary divides and unsettling the conventional representations of Islam will invite new reflection on what diverse human experiences and how Islam, as a global phenomenon, teach us about what it means to be human.