International undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students
Week One – Islam in Africa
The commonly applied division of the Maghreb from sub-Saharan Africa spread by Western scholarship gives rise to innumerable problems, since it denies the many forms of intertwining and interconnectedness that exist between the two shores of the Sahara. The connections between the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa are broad and rooted deeply in the collective unconscious, as this is manifest in contemporary African arts and literature. They have been formed through the centuries from a variety of events and a vast network of relationships, ruptures, influences, insertions and rejections.
This course will attempt to look at one of the numerous connecting factors, Islam, which was introduced to Africa in the early seventh century. It is well known that Islam is the majority religion in Africa north of the Sahara. This region often seems detached from the continent and and appears to have assimilated into "the Middle East" or "the Arab World". What is much less known is the fact that today Islam may also be the most widely professed faith in Africa south of the Sahara, in what western scholarship often calls “Black Africa”.
The course starts with an overview of the history of Islam in Africa, from the arrival of the earliest Muslim migrants in Ethiopia to Islam's expansion into the rest of the continent. Then focusing on North and West Africa, we will attempt to shed light on the processes of Islamisation of the African peoples and the Africanisation of Islam.
The objective is to arrive at an understanding of the ways in which the (North and West) African settings have influenced the practice of Islam in the region, and how in turn, Islam has shaped religious, social, political and economic developments.
Among the topics that will be covered by the course are:
- The forms, processes and agents of Islamisation of the continent
- The forms, processes and agents of Africanisation of the religion
- The Muslim Medieval kingdoms of Western Africa
- Africa and the "Islamic West" (The Almoravid and Almohad empires)
- Islam, women and gender relations
- Islam and colonialism
- The "war against terror" as seen from Africa
Week Two – Christianity in Africa
The dramatic growth of Christianity in contemporary Africa has transformed the continent. This course concerns this expansion and sociohistorical processes through which Christianity has been shaped by indigenous beliefs and practices as well as ethnicity, class, gender, and politics in Africa. It adopts a historical approach to understand the recent expansion in the context of the past two hundred years, including the impact of European colonialism, African nationalism, and postcolonial politics. The focus is on how Christianity has influenced African lives both within and outside of religious communities.
- Initial Christian missionary efforts and African responses
- African initiatives to found independent churches
- African adoption and transformation of charismatic expressions
- Christianity and postcolonial politics
- Christianity in contexts of religious pluralism
Please see the website for the complete text!