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Benjamin Soares, Professor


107B Anderson Hall/472a Grinter Hall

PhD, Northwestern University

Islam and Muslim societies, religion & politics, religion & media, religious encounters, Africa and the Diaspora

Benjamin Soares is a scholar of Islam and Muslim societies in Africa whose research focuses particularly on religious life from the early 20th century to the present. He has conducted research in Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sudan, as well as among West African Muslims in Europe and Asia. In recent work, he has looked at the connections between changing modalities of religious expression, different modes of belonging, and emergent social imaginaries in colonial and postcolonial West Africa. In addition to ongoing interests in religious encounters and religion, media, and the public sphere, he is studying contemporary Muslim public intellectuals in Africa.

He is a co-editor of Africa, the journal of the International African Institute (London), and he also co-edits the International African Library book series (Cambridge).


Recent articles/books chapters:

2020 “Religiosity and its Others: Lived Islam in West Africa and South India,” in Leslie Fesenmyer, Giulia Liberatore, & Ammara Maqsood (eds), Crossing Religious and Ethnographic Boundaries: The Case for Comparative Reflection, a special issue of Social Anthropology, 28(2): 466-481.

2016 “Reflections on Muslim-Christian Encounters in West Africa,” in Marloes Janson and Birgit Meyer (eds), “Studying Islam and Christianity in Africa: moving beyond a bifurcated field,” Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, 86(4): 273-97.  

2016 “New Muslim Public Figures in West Africa.” In Robert Launay (ed.), Writing Boards and Blackboards: Islamic Education in Africa. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 268-84.

2016 (co-authored with Adeline Masquelier) “Introduction: Muslim Youth and the 9/11 Generation.” In Adeline Masquelier and Benjamin Soares (eds), Muslim Youth and the 9/11 Generation. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press & SAR Press, pp. 1-29.

2016 “Malian Youth between Sufism and Satan.” In Adeline Masquelier and Benjamin Soares (eds), Muslim Youth and the 9/11 Generation. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press & SAR Press, pp. 169-88.

2016 “Incontri tra musulmani e cristiani in Africa.” In François Boespflug and Emanuela Fogliadini (eds), Le missioni in Africa: La sfida dell’inculturazione. Bologna: EMI, pp. 305-326.

2015 (co-authored with Marie Nathalie LeBlanc) “Islam et jeunesse en Afrique de l’Ouest dans l’ère néolibérale: un regard anthropologique.” In Kadya Tall, Marie-Emmanuelle Pommerolle, and Michel Cahen (eds), Collective Mobilisations in Africa/Mobilisations collectives en Afrique. Leiden: Brill, pp. 67-90.

2014 “The Historiography of Islam in West Africa: An Anthropologist’s View.” Journal of African History, JAH forum, Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa 55(1):27-36.

2011 “Family Law Reform in Mali: Contentious Debates and Elusive Outcomes.” In Margot Badran (ed.), Gender and Islam in Africa: Rights, Sexuality, and Law. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, pp. 263-90.

2010 “‘Rasta Sufis’ and Muslim Youth Culture in Mali.” In Linda Herrera & Asef Bayat (eds), Being Young and Muslim: New Cultural Politics in the Global South and North. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 241-57.