Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA)

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Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa
Northwestern University
620 Library Place, Evanston IL 60208

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Timbuktu mosque

Welcome to ISITA—the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa, located at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA. ISITA sponsors and facilitates collaborative interdisciplinary scholarship on the Islamic tradition of learning in Africa and promotes a broader awareness of the role of Islam in African societies, past and present.  By sponsoring field research, conferences, visiting scholars, and publications, ISITA encourages intellectual exchange, especially with Africa-based scholars, and produces new knowledge on Islamic thought in Africa.

If you would like to receive updates on ISITA news and events, we encourage you to subscribe to the ISITA e-mail list.


Islamic Africa publishes ninth issue.
The online journal Islamic Africa has published its ninth issue (Spring 2014). Visit the journal's website ( for the Table of Contents and to access free downloads from recent issues, including essays on Muslim Africa and the digital humanities by David Robinson, Peter Limb, and Catherine Foley, and a praise poem by Amadu Bamba Mbacke translated and annotated by Rudolph Ware.

"Handbook on Mali's 2012-13 Crisis" available for free download.

ISITA has published "A Handbook on Mali's 2012-13 Crisis" by Alexander Thurston and Andrew Lebovitch. An excellent resource for understanding the intersecting crises that destabilized Mali in 2012-13, the handbook can be downloaded at


On February 6, 2013 ISITA and the Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS) program co-sponsored a roundtable that addressed the recent activities of radical Islamic movements in key areas in North, Sahelian, and eastern Africa, with an added comparative perspective from Indonesia, and the range of responses from national governments and the international community. Read more about the roundtable on the EDGS website or in the spring 2013 edition of PAS News and Events

ISITA, an affiliate organization of the African Studies Association (ASA), sponsored a roundtable at the ASA's annual meeting in Philadephia in November 2012. Watch a video of the roundtable at the Islamic Africa website, or read about it in the winter 2013 edition of PAS News and Events.

Islamic Africa is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal published online by Northwestern University Press in collaboration with ISITA. Incorporating the journal Sudanic Africa and retaining its focus on historical sources, bibliographies, and methodology, Islamic Africa covers the field of Islam in Africa broadly understood to include the social sciences and humanities. The new journal seeks to promote scholarly interaction among Africa-based scholars and those located institutionally outside the continent. The journal was founded in spring 2010 and is now entering its fourth volume year.

For more information and to read the first issue (available open-access), please visit the journal's website at www.islamicafricajournal.

ISITA Events

Fall Quarter, 2014

All the events listed below are free and open to the public and held in the Program of African Studies Conference Room, 620 Library Place.

Monday, November 3 2014
4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Religion and Race, Religion as Race: The Place of Muslims in South Africa
Gabeba Baderoon, Women's Studies and African Studies, Penn State University

Abstract: South Africa is infamous for apartheid, but the country’s foundation was laid by 176 years of slavery from 1658 to 1834, which formed a crucible of war, genocide and systemic sexual violence that continues to haunt the country today. Enslaved people from East Africa, India and South East Asia, many of whom were Muslim, would eventually constitute the majority of the population of the Cape Colony, the first of the colonial territories that would form South Africa. Attempts to create a Muslim "race" in mid-twentieth century South Africa illustrate the complex relation of religion to race that has marked South Africa since the colonial period. This talk argues that the 350-year presence of Muslims in South Africa is crucial to understanding the formation of concepts of race, sexuality and belonging in the country.

Gabeba Baderoon received a PhD in English from the University of Cape Town. She is the author of Regarding Muslims: from Slavery to Post-apartheid (Wits, 2014) and the poetry collections The Dream in the Next Body and A hundred silences. She is an Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies and African Studies at Pennsylvania State University and an Extraordinary Professor of English at Stellenbosch University.