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Transformation processes and Islam in Africa
Friday, 15 October, 1999
African Studies Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands
Those having conducted research relevant for the study of Islam South of the Sahara, are cordially inviting to present a paper at the one-day conference 'Transformation processes and Islam in Africa', on Friday, 15 October, 1999, at the African Studies Centre, Leiden.
The theme of 'Transformation processes and Islam in Africa' ties in with current developments in Africa. Today, throughout the entire continent the presence of Islam is making itself felt. It is not only in the regions which of old have belonged to Islam's sphere of influence, that we see the current mushrooming of Islamic political and cultural organisations, banks and educational institutions; this process can even be witnessed in regions which until well into the twentieth century CE /the fourteenth century A.H. had remained virtually untouched by Islam. From the remotest areas we now hear expressions of support for Muammar Ghadaffi and Saddam Hussayn. Women's groups refer to the Qur'an in order to demand such liberties for themselves as are refused to these very women by others with reference to the same Qur'an. Countries join the OIC in the face of protests from their own population. Arab countries assist in the building of mosques and the organisation of street children's projects. Politicians clamour for Arabic to be accepted as the official language in countries where until recently this would have been considered an absurd idea. In many parts of Africa today, emerging identities of a contestive and transformative nature increasingly identify - often in a most vocal manner -- as Islamic. This makes this world religion a powerful rallying point for urban youths, women, emerging ethnicities and classes, and for any identity rejecting North Atlantic hegemony and its real or alleged political, military, financial and consumptive mechanisms.
The appeal of Islam is based not only on the dramatically changed position of the Middle East on the world's financial and political map since the 1970s. It also suggests the transformative power of Islam to reside in its potential at globalising concerns and identifications: in the first place with the Islamic umma, but by implication or at least potentially, with the entire world, with humanity at large. Ever since the late first millennium CE / the third century A.H., Islam has been a vehicle of economic, political and ideological re-orientation in African societies, connecting up to a wider world and to more universal, less parochial categories and values. If these effects for many centuries remained constrained to a limited elite of rulers and scribes, we must on the other hand not underestimate the enormous geographical extension of Islamic influence in pre-colonial Africa, ranging from Zimbabwe to Senegal. One obvious topic for research would be to assess whether Islam's role as a vehicle of proto-globalisation in the pre-colonial era is related, and how, to its unmistakable role as a distinct vehicle of globalisation in the postcolonial period, in defiance of North Atlantic hegemony.
Dutch research on Islam has traditionally focused on Indonesia and the Middle East, and more recently on The Netherlands itself. Yet in Dutch academia today, research is emergnig on topics relevant to the study of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, a field which is rapidly gaining importance. at the international level. A conference which aims to bring about an exchange of ideas, data, resources and network contacts on this topic is long overdue.
The convenors, on behalf of the Leiden-based Working Group on Islam in sub-Saharan Africa, initiated by the theme group on Globalisation and Socio-cultural transformation in Africa at the African Studies Centre (ASC), in co-operation with the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), cordially invite you to participate and to present a paper on your own related research.
At the occasion, Professor Louis Brenner (SOAS, London) will deliver a keynote address on 'Recent developments and challenges in the study of Islam in Africa: International perspectives. The rest of the day's programme will be decided on the basis of the abstracts submitted.
If you wish to present a paper, you are requested to send us the following (preferably by using the electronic form below, which can only be used for the registration of participants not giving a paper):
Timely submission of your paper is imperative since we intend to pre-circulate the papers in the form of a provisional pre-conference volume.
We trust that the initiative towards this one-day conference will be welcome, and are looking forward to an exciting conference,
Wim van Binsbergen,
Jose van Santen,
All correspondence concerning this conference, including your registration as a partcipant, and your paper proposal in case you wish to present a paper yourself, the titles, may be sent to the contact person:
Dr Anneke Breedveld,
African Studies Centre
P.O. Box 9555,
2300 RB Leiden
(e-mail: Brdvld@rulcri.leidenuniv.nl ).
Alternatively, you may use the electronic form below for registration and proposal of paper:
KINDLY INFORM OTHERS OF THIS CONFERENCE
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