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Islam in Africa Through the Arts


During Spring 2016, Dr. Oludamini Ogunnaike (2015-16 Postdoctoral Fellow on Islam in Africa) taught an undergraduate seminar, Islam in Africa Through the Arts, surveying the history of Islam and Muslim societies in Africa through their arts. Covering three periods (Pre-colonial, Colonial, and Post-colonial), and four geographic regions (North, East, West, and Southern Africa), the course explored various forms and functions of Qur’anic recitation, calligraphy, illumination, geometric design, architecture, dress, poetry, music, literature, portraiture, and contemporary cinematic arts from spiritual, intellectual, aesthetic, social, and political perspectives.  Through these artistic works and traditions, student learned about general themes of philosophy/ theology/ mysticism, trade, Islam’s relationship with other religions, state formation, revolution, gender and ethnic dynamics, diasporic communities, and contemporary conflicts and debates between Sufis, Salafis, and the state across the continent.