by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary and TIRN, on OCTOBER 14, 2013:
More than a dozen scholars and university administrators from Africa and the U.S. will gather at Duke University this week for a workshop on “Islamic Institutions of Higher Learning in Africa: Their History, Mission and Role in Regional Development.”
The group — which includes scholars and administrators from Islamic institutions in Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Union of the Comoros — will also get a chance to tour campus, give and attend a departmental talks, meet with Duke officials and view the Doris Duke’s Shangri La: Architecture, Landscape and Islamic Art exhibit at the Nasher Museum of Art.
During a closed workshop (Oct. 18-19), they will explore the development and administration of Islamic institutions of higher learning in sub-Saharan Africa and their intellectual, economic and cultural impact in this region.
Members of the Duke and local community are invited to attend the keynote speech by University of Michigan assistant professor of history Rudolph (Butch) Ware. The speech, “The Walking Qur’an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge and History in West Africa,” is open to the public, and will be taped and available later to view on iTunes University. (Ware’s book of the same title will be released in June 2014 by UNC Press)
That talk is from 4-5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, at the John Hope Franklin Center (room 240) at the corner of Erwin and Trent drives, and will be followed by a reception. Paid parking is available at nearby medical parking lots.
While Islamic institutions in Africa are providing much needed education and training to African societies, the visit by this academic group marks one of the first serious exchanges between Western scholars and administrators of these newly-established institutions.
Faculty co-organizer Mbaye Lo, an assistant professor of the practice of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies at Duke, said the visit will provide an opportunity to address “some key underlying questions about these rising institutions across the continent: What role do these institutions play in research, creativity or economic development in Africa? What role do these intuitions play vis-à-vis citizenship education in Africa’s multi-cultural societies? And how can we use or transfer best practices in order to strengthen their capacity building and contribution in societal development?”
Sponsors include the Duke Islamic Studies Center; the center’s ISLAMiCommentary forum (funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York); the International Institute of Islamic Thought (headquartered in Virginia); The Africa Initiative (Duke); Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Duke); African & Afro-American Studies (Duke); Duke History Department; Duke Religion Department; Center for Muslim Life (Duke); Franklin Humanities Institute (Duke), Duke Center for International Development; The Kenan Institute for Ethics; Duke Divinity School;and Duke University Center for International Studies.
Mbaye Lo and Bruce Hall, Assistant Professor of History at Duke University in the African & African American Studies department, are the faculty co-organizers of the visit and workshop.