Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, History/Africa and the Americas, St. Olaf College

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Illinois / Urbana-Champaign
Contesting Islam: Wahhabism, Education, and Muslim Identity in Northern Ghana, 1950-2005

The study explores the dispersion of transnational Islamic forms of knowledge into a West African country- Ghana--­between 1950 and 2005, and examines how those forms have impacted upon the development of Islamic education and the construction of Muslim identity. The project focuses on the educational initiatives of the 'returnee' Wahhabi scholars-Ghanaian students who studied in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other Islamic countries -- by examining how their newly acquired diasporic forms of consciousness and new social networks impacted on local Islamic educational institutions and the construction of Muslim identity in northern Ghana. The project is multidisciplinary and the analysis will be based on archival material from Ghana and the National Archives, UK as well as oral documentation and data collected through the participant- observer method. The goal is to understand how Islamic education can become a vehicle for better quality instruction and greater social cohesion - especially between Muslims and non-Muslims - -rather than simply a mechanism for enhancing the social status and geopolitical and religious power of individual Ulama.