Ousmane Oumar Kane, "Islamic Scholarship in Africa: New Directions and Global Contexts" (James Currey, 2021)

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In 1937, Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, travelling to Mecca to make his first hajj, encountered Egyptian scholars who couldn’t fathom that Niasse’s erudition was a product of his fully Senegalese education. For those learned Egyptians of the 1930s and, Kane argues, modern-day Europhone academics, Islamic erudition among Black Africans remains a major blind spot. Islamic Scholarship in Africa: New Directions and Global Contexts, edited by Ousmane Oumar Kane, presents a state-of-the-art volume that seeks to pulverize that blind spot. Authors underscore the contributions of Black Muslim scholars to Islamic knowledge, the global connections that have long tied sub-Saharan Africa to the global Islamic world, the ways that orality and textuality interact with each other historically and up through to the social media age, in addition to exploring debates around education, spirituality, and Ajami. In the interview, we discuss Kane’s scholarly journey and the greater intellectual project of bridging the knowledge divide separating “Europhone” and “non-Europhone” scholars in the study of Islam in Africa.

Elisa Prosperetti is a Visiting Assistant Professor in African history at Mount Holyoke College. Her research focuses on the connected histories of education and development in postcolonial West Africa. Contact her at:www.elisaprosperetti.net.

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