"Visionaries: Second Sight and Social Change in Islamic West Africa" with Rudolph Ware

Co-sponsored with African Studies.

Oxford’s Advanced Learners Dictionary gives the following two primary definitions of the term ‘visionary:’ (1). original and showing the ability to think about or plan the future with great imagination and intelligence -a visionary leader- (2). relating to dreams or strange experiences, especially of a religious kind -visionary experiences-   This talk explores—in the context of Islamic West Africa—these two primary (and inter-related) senses of the meaning of the word ‘visionary’: a person who experiences ‘visions’ in dreams, trances, and waking states and a person who provides inspirational leadership for social change.  In short, it is an examination of the relationship between the ‘extra-sensory’ sensorium of religious experiences and social action in the Islamic tradition of the African West. For visionary African Muslims, 'visions' were often more real than reality itself and thus had the capacity to transform it. But these visions were not limited to seeing; they were also experiences of sound and smell, touch and taste. The English language—which favors sight among its five culturally constructed senses—offers no better word to describe such all-encompassing sensory experiences than ‘vision.’ Professor Rudolph Ware is a historian of Africa and Islam. Ware earned his Ph.D. in history in 2004 from the University of Pennsylvania where he was trained in African History, African-American History, and Islamic Intellectual History. He is currently an associate professor in the department of History at the University of Michigan, and the founder and director of the IKHLAS research initiative for the study of Islamic Knowledge, Histories & Languages, Arts & Sciences. He is the author of, The Walking Qur’an: Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa, a book that explores the history of a thousand years of Qur'an schooling in West Africa Seating is limitedLunch will be provided

Monday, February 6, 2017 at 12:30pm to 1:45pm

ACMCU, ICC #270 3700 O Street, NW, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

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Academic Events


Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding

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Anastasiia Stoitska

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