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Readings in the Islamic Archive of Africa
Ousmane Oumar Kane
The majority of Arabs live in Africa, and Arabic is by far the most spoken language in Africa. Yet in the academic division of labor, North Africa has been excised from the rest of Africa on the assumption that the Sahara has historically been a barrier separating Arabs from other Africans. Prior to the rise of Western hegemony, North African Arabs have maintained close ties with Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africans through religion, trade, war and diplomacy. These relations are documented by a rich archive in Arabic language and in African languages written with the Arabic script. Focusing on the intellectual production of West Africa in the last five centuries, this seminar will attempt to identify the different genres of this archive and analyze them in their context of production. The first part of the seminar will cover the testimonies of Arab historians and geographers describing the Saharan trade routes and the early Islamization of the Bilad al-Sudan (Land of the Blacks). The second part of the course will focus on the many chronicles that provide our knowledge of African medieval political and social history, from the Chronicle of Kilwa to the Kano Chronicle through the 17th century Timbuktu tawarikh. The third part of the course will deal with the 19th century jihad and state building literature of West Africa. The seminar will conclude with the analysis of the 20th century doctrinal polemics associated with the fragmentation of religious authority. Reading proficiency in either French or Arabic is a requirement for this course.
Enrollment Limited: Limited to 18 students. Instructor's permission required.
Open to BTI Students: Yes
Expected to be offered Fall 2013
Course location to be announced.
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