ISITA organizes symposium in honor of Lansine Kaba
On October 25, 2023, ISITA and the Program of African Studies will organize a half-day symposium celebrating the life and work of historian and Northwestern alumnus Lansiné Kaba (PhD 1972), who passed in May 2023, leaving an enduring legacy as a teacher, scholar, administrator, and public intellectual. Born in the city of Kankan, Republic of Guinea, during French colonial rule, Kaba was a product of both Islamic and western educational institutions. Upon completing his doctoral studies at Northwestern, Professor Kaba taught African and African American history at the University of Minnesota; headed the Department of African-American Studies and served as Dean at the Honors college at the University of Illinois at Chicago; and served as Distinguished Visiting Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University-Qatar.
While Kaba wrote about a wide range of topics, this symposium is structured around themes and questions raised by Kaba’s pioneering study, The Wahhabiyya: Islamic Reform and Politics in French West Africa, 1945-1960 (Northwestern University Press, 1974), which won the Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the best book in African studies in 1975. The book examines the youth-led Islamic reform movement that developed in West Africa around 1945, drawing inspiration from the Wahhabi ideology developed in the Arabian Peninsula of the mid-18th century. Locating religious belief and change firmly in a sociohistorical context, the book examines the movement’s role in the drive for independence in francophone West Africa in the 1950s.