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A Genealogy of African Islam Modernity, Wendell Marsh - CMS Seminar Series

Wednesday, March 17, 2021 at 4:30pm

Virtual Event

African Islamic modernity is a discourse, a historical condition, and a project that highlights the entanglements of African racial identities, Islamic forms of life, and modernity as the globally hegemonic mode of social, economic, and political being. While there are many lineages by which one might trace the story of entanglement — situated differently in various locations, traditions, and contexts — the contemporary nation-state of Senegal is the ideal setting to think through these relationships. It is a space marked by a millennium of Islamic presence and over five centuries of integration in the global economy sequentially defined by the trans-Atlantic slave-trade, colonization, and neoliberal economic structural adjustment. It is also a space in which conflicting Africanist and Orientalist discourses have competed to represent a society that consistently escapes both constructions. Between and beyond these discourses, there is an important national discourse that narrates a story of modernity in three key episodes: 1) Islamic revolution that enshrines Islamic principles of governance, 2) anti-colonial messianism that carves out an autonomous space of Islamic economics, and 3) Racial accommodation in which the colonial state and Sufi orders negotiate the terms of the social contract. In this talk, I will show how these episodes together constitute a history of the present.

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