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Cluster of Excellence EXC 2052 - "Africa Multiple: reconfiguring African Studies"

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Toward an Islamic Cultural Archive: Building a Collaborative Database of Islamic Learning in Africa

Toward an Islamic Cultural Archive: Building a Collaborative Database of Islamic Learning in Africa

Project Directors

Research Team

  • Dr. Britta Frede (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
  • Dr. Hassan Ndzovu (Senior Lecturer of Religious Studies, Moi University, Kenya)
  • Dr. Mohamed Mraja (Senior Lecturer, Moi University, Kenya)
  • Dr. Abdourahmane Seck (Centre d’Étude des Religions, Université Gaston-Berger Saint-Louis, Senegal)
  • Dr. Fatimatou Abdel Wahhabe (Faculté du Literature Arabe, Université Nouakchott, Mauritania)
  • Dr. Ramzi Ben Amara (Centre d‘Anthropologie, Université du Sousse, Tunesia)


The overarching aim of this project is the establishment of a dynamic archive of Islamic culture in Africa based on innovative digital working formats, developed together with mostly Africa-based cooperation partners. The envisaged four-year funding period will serve to test 
and refine the research approach and digital tools through focusing on those aspects of Islamic culture that revolve around religious learning in the widest sense. For the purpose of this project, we conceive of learning as processes where teachings and practices pertaining to Islam are conveyed; these may be found in formal education, but extend to many other settings and contexts. In addition, given the interconnectedness of learning networks, we seek to include data on religious affiliations and networks, thus creating synergies with the RS Affiliations. If successful, we envision a long-term perspective for the project beyond the first funding period and include other realms of Islamic culture in Africa.

Building on a previous pilot scheme led by Ulrich Rebstock at Albert-Ludwigs University Freiburg, we will make the archive accessible in the form of a Wiki, to be continuously expanded in collaboration with our African academic partners. By including the latters’ perspectives and approaches, the project will provide an avenue to relational and reflexive knowledge production about Islamic culture in Africa, thus promising new insights into the nature of Islamicity, i.e., into the ways in which actions and objects are defined as “Islamic” and the ways in which “Islamic” identities are constructed.

The project will contribute to the RS Learning by mapping ideas and practices as well as networks pertaining to Islamic education and scholarly culture in Africa. Our innovative approach to the collaborative collection, storage, and connectivity of research data will allow for synergies both within and beyond the RS Learning, with the potential of providing a blueprint for digital working formats in the cluster as a whole.

Webmaster: Dr. Doris Löhr

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