POSTPONED: Two-day workshop: Travelling Islam: The circulation of ideas in Islamic Africa

This workshop has been postponed to June-July 2021.

A two-day workshop will be held on 1-2 July at Leiden University on the circulation of texts, ideas and people in Islamic Africa with the objective to develop further synergies on this important theme (such as a book-project or larger research proposal). The workshop will be organized by the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society in collaboration with the African Studies Centre Leiden and its Collaborative Research Group ‘Africa in the World - Rethinking Africa’s Global Connections’.

Cultural discourse is one of the main engines of intellectual history and the history of ideas. By following examples of Muslim discourse that have travelled across Islamic Africa, in different languages, scripts, and registers of expression, through different social environments and periods, we can deepen our understanding of the shaping of Islam in and through various African milieus. Bringing together perspectives of literature studies, history, and anthropology, this workshop aims to study circulating Islamic texts and discourses, not as monolithic and fixed archives but rather within a framework of ongoing translocal negotiation, and hence, creation, circulation, transformation, and re-appropriation.

The major questions on which we intend to focus are clustered around the interplay between cultural discourses, mobility, and intellectual history. We would like to look at a number of texts and their adaptations (e.g. Umm al-barahīn, Qiṣaṣ al-anbīya’, Qaṣīdat al-burda) to start investigating:

  • by which type of individuals or networks (professional, family, trade, religious, such as sufi brotherhoods) they were promoted;
  • through which media (i.e. manuscript, print, radio) they started circulating;
  • how shared stories and themes  (i.e. the Qiṣaṣ al-anbīya’) have been adapted to new cultural environments, into new languages and genres;
  • how they have shaped intellectual discourses in multi-lingual regions of sub-Saharan Africa.

Furthermore, we would like to look at:

  • how people’s mobility has influenced ideas (e.g. with regard to social practices like burial, divorce, the idea of the “other”, and of authority) in the localities of arrival as well as back home.

Keynote lecture 
Fallou Ngom, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Centre at Boston University.


Organising committee

Annachiara Raia, researcher and University Lecturer, Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society / African Studies Centre Leiden
Mayke Kaag, senior researcher and Associate Professor Political Anthropology of Africa's Global Connections, ASCL/LU
Dorrit van Dalen, lecturer at the Institute for Area Studies 
Maarten Kossmann, Professor of Berber Studies, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics

Read the call for papers (closed).
Appel à contribution (fermé).

This workshop is by invitation only, however, the keynote lecture will be open to the public. If you have any questions, please contact Fatima el Boujdani: and/or Annachiara Raia

Date, time and location

01 July 2020 to 02 July 2020