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Conference: West Africa and the Maghreb (Harvard University)

September 13, 2018 - September 15, 2018

West Africa and the Maghreb: Reassessing Intellectual Connections in the 21st Century


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
9.15 AM-11.15 AM

Chair: Stephanie Paulsell, Harvard Divinity School

  • Armaan Sidiqi, Harvard University, Examining Sufis in Politics and ‘Politicized Sufism’: a case study of the Boutchichiyya” 
  • Jaison M. Carter, Harvard University, ”Black Muslimness Mobilized: A Study of West African Sufism in Diaspora”
  • 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: Prayers, Invocations and the Talismanic Tradition
12.00 PM-2.00 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 18thCentury 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: Re-evalutating the Historic Core Curriculum
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
  • Abubakar Abdulkadir, University of Alberta, Canada, “Poetry in West Africa and the Maghreb”


17.00-18.00 Concert by Noor Ensemble (Braun Room)
Noor Ensemble is composed of artists from Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq who sing for God, Prophets and Peace and Love. Noor Ensemble try to build up the bridge between all nations and people


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, Jihadi-Salafism and the Vocabulary of Takfīr in the 21st Century Hausaland and Bornu
  • Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem, Northwestern University Evanston, “Assessing the Salafi Current in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania”
  • Anouar Boukhars, McDaniel College, 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

Chair: Jacob 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”


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