West Africa and the Maghreb Conference


Thursday, September 13, 2018 (All day) to Saturday, September 15, 2018 (All day)


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

West Africa and the Maghreb
Reassessing Intellectual Connections in the 21st century
An International Conference to be held at Harvard Divinity School.
13-15 September 2018 | Sperry Room
Convener: Ousmane Kane


As part of the efforts to promote the study of Islam in Africa at Harvard, an Islam in Africa conference series was initiated under the sponsorship of HDS, NELC, CAS, AAAS, and the Hutchins Center with the goal to convene an international symposium every year to facilitate intellectual conversation between junior and senior scholars involved in cutting edge research in the field. In line with the mission of the Alwaleed Chair in Contemporary Islamic Religion and Society, this conference series is centered on the history of Muslim institutions and ideas in Africa.


Thursday, September 13, 2018 

Welcome Address

5.30-5.45 PM

David N. Hempton, Dean of Harvard Divinity School

HDS Faculty Grant Program

Janet Gyatso, Academic Dean of Harvard Divinity School

Keynote Lecture
5.45-7.00 PM

Ousmane Kane “The Transformation of the Pilgrimage Tradition in West Africa”


Friday, September 14, 2018

Panel 1:  Sufism and Sufi Orders in Muslim Africa
8.45-10.45 AM

Chair: Stephanie Paulsell, Harvard Divinity School

  • Armaan Sidiqi, Harvard University, “Examining Sufis in Politics and ‘Politicized Sufism’: a case study of the Boutchichiyya”

  • Hadi Nima Niass, FADEC "The Tijaniyya Tariqa: A Bridge between West Africa and the Maghreb”

  • Ariela Marcus-Sells, Elon University, “Technologies of Devotion in the works of Sidi Mukhtar al-Kunti”

  • Christine Thun-Nhi Dang, New York University, “The Politics of Love in African Performances of Sufi Poetry”

Panel 2: Re-evaluating the Historic Core Curriculum
11.15 AM-1.15 PM

Chair: Kimberly C. Patton, Harvard Divinity School

  • James C. Riggan, Florida State University, “Qur’anic Exorcism in North and West Africa”

  • Zachary Wright, Northwestern University Qatar and Adam Larson, Weill Cornell University – Qatar,“Genealogy of Prayer Manuals 18th Century to the Present”

  • Paul Anderson, Harvard, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered: A Reconsideration of the Evil Eye and Ruqyah through Ethnographic Analysis”

  • Oludamini Ogunnaike, College of Williams and Mary, Poetry in Praise of Prophetic Perfection: West African Madih Poetry and its Precedents”

Panel 3: Prayers, Invocations, and the Talismanic Tradition
2.45-4.45 PM

Chair: Charles Hallisey, Harvard Divinity School

  • Ismail Warcheid, CNRS France, “Scholarly Networks, Legal Debates, and Territorial Integration”

  • David Owen, Harvard University., “Of Radd and Sharḥ and Ṭurra : The Long and Late Dynamism of the African Commentary Tradition on Akhḍarī's Sullam on Avicennian Organon Logic”

  • Alexis Trouillot, Université Paris VII,  “The Study of Mathematics in the Sahel from the 15thto the 20th C.”

  • Abubakar Abdulkadir, University of Alberta, Canada, “Poetry in West Africa and the Maghreb”

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Panel 4: Jihadi Ideology: What is new, what is not?

8.30 AM-10.30 AM

Chair: Francis X. Clooney, S.J., Harvard Divinity School

  • William Miles, Northeastern University, “Jihadism in Muslim West Africa in historical perspective”

  • Abdulbasit Kassim, Rice University, Who is a Muslim’? Jihadi-Salafism and the Discourse of Takfir in the 21st Century Hausaland and Borno”

  • Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem, Northwestern University Evanston, “Assessing the Salafi Current in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania”

  • Anouar Boukhars, Daniels University, “The Strategic Incentives for Insurgents to Embrace Extreme Ideology: The Case of the Sahel and Maghreb”

Panel 5: New Intellectual Connections

10.45 AM-12.45 PM

ChairJacob K. Olupona, Harvard Divinity School

  • Mansour Kedidir, CRASC Algeria, “Connections of Intellectuals in the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa: Trajectories and Representations”

  • Fatima Harrak, Institute of African Studies, Rabat Morocco, “Research on Moroccan-African Relations at the Rabat Institute of African Studies”

  • Robert Parks,  CEMA, Algeria, “American Research Centers in North Africa and Sahara-Sahel Studies”

  • Ebrima Sall, Trust Africa, Senegal “CODESRIA and the New Pan-Africanist Intellectual Connections Across the Sahara”


ORGANIZER: Harvard Divinity School

WEBSITE: https://scholar.harvard.edu/ousmanekane/program-0