Northwestern Events Calendar


Africanization: The Bridge to Edward Blyden's Final Intellectual Transformation (Harry Nii Koney Odamtten)

When: Wednesday, February 24, 2021
1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Rebecca Shereikis   (847) 491-2598

Group: Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA)

Co-Sponsor: Program of African Studies
History Department

Category: Academic, Lectures & Meetings, Multicultural & Diversity, Global & Civic Engagement


Africanization: The Bridge to Edward Blyden's Final Intellectual Transformation

Join ISITA for a talk by Harry Nii Koney Odamtten (history, Santa Clara University).

Moderated by Zekeria Ahmed Salem, ISITA director and associate professor of political science, Northwestern University.


A great deal of literature exists about Edward W. Blyden’s foundational contributions to the notion of Pan-Africanism as well as to African and African diasporan intellectual history. Very little of the existing scholarship, however, deal directly with his encounter with the Muslim peoples of Upper Guinea and his academic engagement with their histories, philosophies, and distinctive practice of Islam. This presentation will examine Blyden’s study of Islam in West Africa during the nineteenth century and argues that he is the intellectual progenitor of the notion of Africans making Islam their own—an idea now popularized by the phrase “Africanization of Islam. It offers an analysis of Blyden’s systematic study of the spread, localization, and practice of Islam among Muslim Africans and details his specific contributions to the study of Islam in the areas of Islamic scholarship, Arabic and African languages, the institutionalization of Arabic/English schools, and cultural immersion in Muslim African societies. It argues that the knowledge that Blyden acquired from these experiences served as a guideline for his proposal for the Africanization of the West African Church.

About the speaker

Harry Nii Koney Odamtten is Associate Professor of African and Atlantic History at Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California. He holds a Dual Ph.D. in African American & African Studies, and History from Michigan State University (2010) and earned his Bachelors from the University of Ghana, Legon (2001).

Odamtten is primarily an intellectual and social historian, and has recently published Edward W. Blyden's Intellectual Transformations: Afropublicanism, Pan-Africanism, Islam, and the Indigenous West African Church (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2019). He is also an Editor of the Journal of West African History. His research and publications span African and African Diaspora intellectual and social history, African and African-American gender and women’s studies, Pan-Africanism, Hip-Hop and public culture. 

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