Islamic Knowledge in Africa--Participants

Dr. Felicitas Becker,
Lecturer, University of Cambridge

Dr Becker did her undergraduate work at Humboldt Universitaet, Berlin, followed by an MA in African area studies at SOAS and a PhD in African history in Cambridge. She set out to study the economic and social history of an isolated region of Tanzania, including processes of economic and political marginalization as well as resistance (see the article on ‘Traders, ‘big men’ and prophets’ in Journal of African History,2004). Her post-doctoral work focused on the spread of Islam in the same region. It is published by Oxford University Press as Becoming Muslim in Mainland Tanzania. Before returning to Cambridge, she taught at Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, SOAS and at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada.


Dr. Ousman Kobo,
Associate Professor, History Department, Ohio State University

Professor Kobo has served as Visiting Assistant Professor of African history at Marquette University and Gettysburg College before joining the History Department in 2006. Professor Kobo’s research and teaching interests include 20th century West African social and religious history; contemporary Islamic history; Sufism; French and British colonialism in Africa; and the social history of West African migrants in the United States. His forthcoming book, "Unveiling Modernity in West African Islamic Reforms, 1950-2000," documents the histories of contemporary Islamic reforms associated with Wahhabism in Ghana and Burkina Faso. The book also examines the ways the rise of Wahhabi-inclined movements at the end of colonial rule helps us understand Muslims' engagements with modernity. His publications include, "The Development of Wahhabi Reforms in Ghana and Burkina Faso, 1960–1990: Elective Affinities between Western-Educated Muslims and Islamic Scholars" (Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2009 and “‘We are citizens too’: the Politics of Citizenship in Independent Ghana.” Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 48 no. 1 (2010): 67-94. Kobo has received prestigious awards and grants to support his scholarly work including the MacArthur Fellowship for International Peace and the Boren Fellowship. He was also the co-recipient of the Distinguished Service Award awarded to two CCNY alumni during the College’s centennial celebration in 1997 for his service to the College.


Dr. Zachary Wright, -
Assistant Professor; Northwestern University, Qatar.
Zachary Wright is an Assistant Professor in Residence in Liberal Arts at Northwestern University in Qatar, with joint appointments in History and Religion from Northwestern’s Evanston campus. Wright received his Ph.D. (History) from Northwestern University, with a dissertation focusing on Sufism and the history of Islamic knowledge transmission in West Africa. He also has an M.A. in Arabic Studies, Middle East History, from the American University in Cairo and a B.A. in History from Stanford University. He teaches classes on Islam in Africa, modern Middle East history, African history, Islamic intellectual history, and Islam in America. He has authored two books: On the Path of the Prophet: Shaykh Ahmad Tijani and the Tariqa Muhammadiyya (2005), and The Removal of Confusion (2010), the latter a translation of a West African Arabic text, Kashif al-ilbas, by the Senegalese Muslim leader Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse.