The African Studies Program co-organized a workshop on the topic, “Religious Authority in Muslim Africa: Fragmentation and Plurality,” at the Indiana University European Gateway in Berlin from October 10-12, 2019. The initiative was led by John Hanson(African Studies Program) and Ron Sela (Islamic Studies Program), joined by Rüdiger Seesemann (University of Bayreuth) and Terje Østebø and Ben Soares (University of Florida).
The workshop identified types of Muslim authorities in Africa, their sources of legitimation, their modes of transmission, their connections to external centers of authority and models of religiosity, as well as their relations with the state. The workshop papers analyze processes of the fragmentation and contestation of religious authority in Muslim Africa to historicize contemporary debates about authority in Islam and examine them from diverse disciplinary approaches. The hope is to revise the papers for an edited anthology published by Indiana University Press.
Presenters included Beth Buggenhagen (Indiana University), Britta Frede (University of Bayreuth), Sean Hanretta (Northwestern University), Joseph Hill (University of Alberta), Fulera Issaka (University of Ghana), Kai Kresse (ZMO), Wendell Hassan Marsh (Rutgers University), Hanna Nieber (University of Bayreuth), Benedikt Pontzen (University of Bayreuth), Kadera Swaleh (Pwani University, Kenya), Alexander Thurston (University of Cincinnati), Dorrit van Dalen (Leiden University), Halkan Abdi Wario (Edgerton University, Kenya), and Kimberly Wortmann (Wake Forest University). Commentators included Hanson, Østebø, Seesemann, Soares, and Marloes Janson (School of Oriental and African Studies).