Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society

Islam in North Africa

As Lila Abu Lughod pointed out in 1989, North Africa has been one of the geographical ‘zones of prestige’ for the development of canonical approaches and crucial theoretical debates regarding the comparative study of Islam.

Colonial forces as well as postcolonial dynamics have led to crucial transformations of the place and forms of Islamic thought and practice broadly understood in the region.  

The goal of this research programme is to contribute to wider global debates about Islam and reinvigorate current discussions and enquiries regarding Muslims societies in North Africa. By bringing together state of the art research conducted by scholars at Leiden and fostering collaborations between them as well as with colleagues in North Africa, in the coming years the research programme will focus on four themes:

  • urban space and Muslim societies; 
  • comparative approaches to ‘everyday lived Islam’ in the region.
  • Islamic materiality/heritage;
  • migration of concepts, texts and Islamic practices between North Africa and Europe.

The 2018 focus of the North Africa research programme is on urban spaces and the idea of the god life and living together, from a religious, moral, and political perspective.

To this end we are organizing an international conference in Rabat (NIMAR), where speakers from North Africa and Europe will meet to discuss the histories, theories, methods and state of the art research on approaching 'the urban commons' from an interdisciplinary perspective. 

The main aim is to explore how ideas, discourses, and practices about collective living, ‘the good life’, morality, urban diversity, and the ‘commons’ are expressed in urban settings in the region, and ask how are 'the commons' defined, produced, and also used to exclude others.”

In 2018, this programme consists of the following event:


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