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Brill’s Islam in Africa is designed to present the results of scholarly research into the many aspects of the history and present-day features of Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The series will take up issues of religious and intellectual traditions, social significance and organization, and other aspects of the Islamic presence in Africa. It includes monographs, collaborative volumes and reference works by researchers from all relevant disciplines.

Obituary

John Hunwick (1936-2015)

Professor John Owen Hunwick, a leading scholarly authority on the history of Islam in West Africa, passed away on 1 April 2015, after a lengthy illness.

Born in 1936 in Somerset, England, John Hunwick came into contact with Africa as a conscript soldier in British Somaliland from 1955. Back in Britain, he studied Arabic and Islamic history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, graduating in Arabic in 1959. He then went to Ibadan in Nigeria to teach Arabic and the University College there. After several years in Nigeria, he became Associate Professor of History at the University of Ghana, before finally coming to Northwestern University in Evanston, USA (from 1991), where he taught African history and Islamic studies until his retirement in 2004.

Professor Hunwick was an authority of a wide variety of topics and periods of the history of Islam in Africa, in particular in the medieval and early modern periods. He will perhaps be most remembered for his relentless efforts to show that Africa’s past was replete with written sources, and not just the “oral history” that earlier generations of historians assumed. He worked both to collect manuscripts but not least to catalogue and disseminate knowledge about them. In Timbuktu, which came to be at the centre of his attention from the mid-1990s onwards, he will in particular be remembered as the instigator for the UNESCO-initiated Centre de Documentation et de Recherches Ahmed Baba. The centre, now Institute for Studies and Research (IHERI), is a repository of locally produced Arabic manuscripts of a wide variety of topics. Hunwick committed himself to disseminating knowledge of the rich literary heritage in Arabic from Africa, not least through the multi-volume bio-biographical dictionary Arabic Literature of Africa (Leiden: Brill from 1990, edited together with R.S. O’Fahey). He also initiated several journals for this purpose, from Research Bulletin of the Centre of Arabic Documentation in his Ibadan period, through the Fontes Historiae Africanae bulletin, to Sudanic Africa: A Journal of Historical Sources, where he published a large number of documents and biographical studies on important Muslim scholars.

Professor Hunwick published several monographs, the most important being a study of the sixteenth-century Moroccan scholar al-Maghili’s influence on Songhay and Hausaland, Shari’a in Songhay (his Ph.D. Oxford University Press 1985), and a commented translation of al-Saʿdī’s Taʾrīkh al-sūdān: Timbuktu and the Songhay Empire (Brill 1999). However, already from the early 1960s he produced a series of important articles that set the pattern for the study of Islam in West Africa from the medieval to the modern, including an important discussion on the early history of Gao in the Almoravid period, on Islamic law in Songhay, and on issues pertaining to Sufism and slavery. He emphasized the importance of Africa’s contacts across the Sahara, and coined the phrase that “Arabic is the Latin of Africa.” In 2005, the African Studies Association recognized his extraordinary achievements by endowing him with the Distinguished Africanist Award.

Professor Hunwick’s lasting contribution to the study of Islam and Africa includes the establishment of the first academic centre exclusively devoted to the Islamic intellectual tradition in Africa: the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA), founded in 1999 under the umbrella of Northwestern University’s Program of African Studies (PAS). He was able to attract significant grants for ISITA and built an impressive scholarly network around its activities. Always fond of puns, Hunwick used to say, “IS IT A good program? Yes, it is!” Indeed, the role of ISITA in promoting the study of Islam in Africa cannot be overestimated. For Brill Academic Publishers, Hunwick will—in addition to his publications mentioned above—be noted as the founder of the book series Islam in Africa (ISAF).

Professor Hunwick was an generous, welcoming and compassionate scholar, who made all effort to support scholars working in West African Islamic history, and in particular his many students, from Africa and elsewhere. He was for many of us the ultimate authority on any question relating to the use of Arabic in Africa, to issues of Shari’a in the African Maliki tradition, and to scholarliness in general. A veritable pioneer and trailblazer has left us, and those who used to stand on the shoulders of this giant will miss him dearly.

Professor Knut S. Vikør, University of Bergen, Norway
Professor Rüdiger Seesemann, University of Bayreuth, Germany

Published in association with the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), Africa Futures features cutting-edge research that critically reflects on some of the big questions relevant to imagining Africa’s future as a place. The series emerges out of CODESRIA’s strategic focus on futures and alternatives, showcasing rigorous scholarly interventions that engage constructively with African futures, and rooted in research that challenges orthodoxies associated with dominant, but often problematic discourses about the continent. Wide-ranging in its scope, Africa Futures encourages interdisciplinary thinking about Africa’s developmental challenges that are informed by history. Both individual monographs and edited volumes are welcome.
State and Individual in Inner City Renewal and Urban Social Movement
Author:
In Becoming Citizens in China, Shi Yunqing describes the two interlinked histories that have made China’s urban and economic miracle: the unfolding process of inner city renewal and the production of citizens shaped by the collective rights defence actions in response to demolition and resettlement projects. Shi reveals a complex problematic tension between the state and the individual during China's social transition. This book is rigorously researched and draws on a rich body of materials. In this approach to State-Individual relationship, Shi Yunqing convincingly shows how citizens are produced in urban social movements against the backdrop of differences between Chinese and Western development histories. The production of citizens in “Chinese-style” produces insightful “local knowledge” and contributes to a new global sociology in general and the Post-Western sociology in particular.

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在《再造城民》这本书中,施芸卿讲述了造就中国城市和经济奇迹的两段互为表里的历史:旧城的再造与公民的生产。从国家和个人之间的相互形塑出发,她展现了中国社会转型的独特逻辑。本书有着极其详实的法律、政策文本和田野材料,以“国家—个人”关系为研究路径,施芸卿令人信服地解释了在与西方发展历史不同的中国背景下,公民如何从都市社会运动中产生。“中国式”的公民生产提供了富于洞见的本土知识,为新的全球社会学,尤其是后西方社会学研究做出了贡献。

An Ethnography of Emic Histories and Indigenous Revivalism in Post-Apartheid Cape Town
Author:
The Khoisan of the Cape are widely considered virtually extinct as a distinct collective following their decimation, dispossession and assimilation into the mixed-race group ‘coloured’ during colonialism and apartheid. However, since the democratic transition of 1994, increasing numbers of ‘Khoisan revivalists’ are rejecting their coloured identity and engaging in activism as indigenous people. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Cape Town, this book takes an unprecedented bottom-up approach. Centring emic perspectives, it scrutinizes Khoisan revivalism’s origins and explores the diverse ways Khoisan revivalists engage with the past to articulate a sense of indigeneity and stake political claims.
Celebración, resistencia furtiva y transformación cultural
En Cofradías Afrohispánicas: celebración, resistencia furtiva y transformación cultural, Manuel Apodaca Valdez ofrece un estudio de 42 cofradías de afrodescendientes del periodo colonial y seis cofradías contemporáneas aún vivas en cuatro zonas geográficas: España, Perú, México y República Dominicana.

Esta investigación histórica y comparativa de corte trasatlántico analiza datos recogidos en archivos históricos e investigación de campo. El estudio muestra evidencias de las condiciones sociales, políticas, culturales y espirituales de las personas de origen africano que se integraron en cofradías durante el periodo colonial. Su legado trazó un camino caracterizado por la hibridación y la transformación, cimentando las bases para las cofradías afrohispánicas del presente, un fenómeno que el autor interpreta como resistencia furtiva y celebración de la identidad cultural.

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In Cofradías Afrohispánicas [Afro-Hispanic Confraternities], Manuel Apodaca Valdez offers an account of forty-two confraternities of African descendants of the colonial period, along with six contemporary confraternities still alive in four geographical regions: Spain, Perú, México, and the Dominican Republic.

This historical and comparative trans-Atlantic study analyzes data gathered from archives and field work research. The work shows evidence of the social, political, cultural, and spiritual conditions of the peoples of African descent integrated in confraternities during the colonial time. Their legacy traced a path historically marked by hybridism and transformation laying the foundation for contemporary Afro-confraternities, a phenomenon interpreted by the author as furtive resistance and celebration of cultural identity.
International Intervention and the Formation of a Fragmented State
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How did South Sudan become one of the most striking examples of state-building failure and state collapse after years of international support? What went wrong in the state-building enterprise? How did external intervention overlap and intertwine with local processes of accumulation of power and of state formation? This book addresses these questions analysing the intersection between international and local actors and processes. Based on original ethnographic and archival data, it provides a unique account of how state-building resources were captured and manipulated by local actors at various levels, contributing to the deepening of ethnic fragmentation and the politicization of ethnicity.
Strategies of Belonging in Indian Ocean Island Societies
Volume Editors: and
All the islands of the western Indian Ocean are immigrant societies: Austronesian seafarers, African slaves, Arab traders, South Asian indentured labourers and European plantation owners have all settled, some voluntarily, others less so, on Madagascar and Zanzibar, in the Mascarenes and the Comoros. Successive arrivals often struggle to establish their places in these societies, negotiating their way in the face of antipathy, resistance, even violence, as different claims to belonging conflict. The contributions to this volume take a selection of case studies from across the region, and from different perspectives, contributing to a theorisation of the concept of belonging itself.

Contributors are Patrick Desplat, Franziska Fay, Marie-Aude Fouéré, Akbar Keshodkar, Hans Olsson, Gitanjali Pyndiah, Ramola Ramtohul, Iain Walker
Co-constructing NGO Presence in Rural Malawi
Author:
In rural Northern Malawi, villagers co-construct meanings for NGOs’ projects and resources. NGOs and their staff are invoked within, yet simultaneously influence, intra-community debates. This book explores NGO presence through detailing relationships, personhoods and social changes within a rural community. It argues that NGOs’ projects have less impact on many Malawians’ lives than the ways their presence encourages villagers to re-image development and renegotiate intra-community obligations and entitlements. The book examines moral economies and discourses of development by detailing how development narratives are built around the symbols development actors emit. It also investigates the intra-village social lives of development brokers.
The essays in this collection are written to make readers (re)consider what is possible in Africa. The essays shake the tree of received wisdom and received categories, and hone in on the complexities of life under ecological and economic constraints. Yet, throughout this volume, people do not emerge as victims, but rather as inventors, engineers, scientists, planners, writers, artists, and activists, or as children, mothers, fathers, friends, or lovers – all as future-makers. It is precisely through agents such as these that Africa is futuring: rethinking, living, confronting, imagining, and relating in the light of its many emerging tomorrows.