Northwestern Events Calendar


The Lansiné Kaba Symposium

When: Wednesday, October 25, 2023
12:00 PM - 4:00 PM CT

Where: 620 Library Place, Evanston, IL 60208 Evanston map it

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

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


This half-day symposium celebrates the life and work of historian and Northwestern alumnus Lansiné Kaba (PhD 1972), who passed in May 2023, leaving an enduring legacy as a teacher, scholar, administrator, and public intellectual. 
While Kaba wrote about a wide range of topics, this symposium is structured around themes and questions raised by Kaba’s pioneering study, The Wahhabiyya: Islamic Reform and Politics in French West Africa, 1945-1960 (Northwestern University Press, 1974), which won the Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the best book in African studies in 1975. 
We have invited three scholars to campus for the symposium. Each has explored various aspects of Wahhabism and Wahhabi-oriented reform in different contexts, and we expect a lively conversation across area studies boundaries about what it means to be Wahhabi or to be labelled as Wahhabi, in Africa or elsewhere.   
Cole M. Bunzel’s book, Wahhābism: The History of a Militant Islamic Movement (Princeton University Press, 2023) is a new intellectual history of Wahhabi doctrine, tracing its origins to the religious thought of medieval theologian Ibn Taymiyya and examining its development through several generations of Wahhabi scholars.  
Ousman Murzik Kobo is the author of Unveiling Modernity in Twentieth-Century West African Reforms (Brill Academic Publishers, 2012), which analyzes the origins of Wahhabi-inclined reform movements in Ghana and Burkina Faso, and especially their emergence from local doctrinal contests over Islamic orthodoxy.  
Zakyi Ibrahim has published Islamic Thought in Africa: The Collected Works of Afa Ajura (1910-2004) and the Impact of Ajuraism on Northern Ghana (Yale University Press, 2021), a volume of English translations of the writings of Afa Ajura, widely considered to have been the initiator of Wahhabi reformism in Northern Ghana. 

12-1 pm  
ISITA Lunchtime talk 
Wahhābism: The History of a Militant Islamic Movement:  A Book Talk by Cole Bunzel 
View details here.
Bunzel's talk is a separate event which will lead into the symposium and help to frame the discussion. 
1:30-4:00 pm 
The Lansiné Kaba Symposium

1:30-2:00 pm: Welcome by ISITA Director Zekeria Ahmed Salem and reading of "In Memoriam" piece by Marcia Tiede (Africana Cataloger and Secretary of the Mande Studies Association).

2:00-2:15 pm:  Sean Hanretta (Northwestern University History Department)

2:15-2:30: Zachary Wright (Northwestern University, Qatar) via ZOOM

2:30-2:50 pm:  Ousmane Kobo (The Ohio State University)

2:50-3:10 pm: Coffee Break

3:10-3:30 pm: Zakyi Ibrahim (California State, Fullerton)

3:30-4:00 pm: General discussion, including the speakers and the audience.  

Add to Calendar

Add Event To My Group:

Please sign-in