By The Africa Institute

June 22, 2022

As part of the Faculty and Fellows seminar series, The Africa Institute invited Professor Abdourahmane Idrissa, Senior Researcher, African Studies Centre, Leiden University to speak about his perspectives and projects in his talk titled, “A few ideas on Africa in World History” on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 held at Khalid School Auditorium.

The seminar primarily revolved around two working book projects: the first segment was on his developing proposal on “Sunset Empire: Songhay and the Birth of the Modern World” which will act as a prequel to the second segment of the session that grappled with key ideas for his upcoming book, “Africa Modern: a World History” that questioned Africa’s role in the creation of the modern world in which we live now.

As part of the reflection, the seminar was moderated by Salah M. Hassan, Director, The Africa Institute who invited an array of questions from faculty and fellows to stimulate dialogue, bring forward arguments and focus on specific aspects related to the African experience in the Americas.

“Historians of global history have tended to present the saga of the advent of the modern world is presented as that of the ‘rise of the West’ and a corresponding ‘sinking of the Rest’, and philosophies of the modern age world have supported the notion,” said Professor Abdourahmane Idriss.

“The central scene, in any event, is always the West. This book project, “Africa Modern: a World History” claims that these powerful perspectives fascinate us the way the moon does: we see only the face of it that glows with cosmic sunlight – never the whole of it. To see the whole of the moon of the modern world, that which is left in the dark must be brought to light, and I contend that the biggest chunk of that is Africa. Africa in those centuries made modernity, and largely made the West, which did not “rise” by sheer volition but through Newtonian laws of history that involved a lot of Africa.” he added.

This session marked the last of the Faculty and Fellows Seminar Series organized by the institute for the Spring of 2022.

About the Speakers:

Abdourahmane Idrissa

Rahmane Idrissa is a senior researcher at Leiden University’s Africa Studies Centre. He is a political scientist with a strong inclination toward history. As a specialist in political Islam and democratization in the Sahel, he’s written the book The Politics of Islam in the Sahel: Between Persuasion and Violence (2015) and co-edited Democratic Struggle, Institutional Reform, and State Resilience in the African Sahel. He is currently working on a book on “the Songhay Empire and the Birth of Modernity”. In French, he co-authored L’Afrique pour les nuls (“Africa for Dummies”) in 2017.

Salah M. Hassan

Salah M. Hassan is a Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Africana Studies, and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), and a professor of art history and visual culture in the Africana Studies and Research Center, and the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University. Salah M. Hassan is the Director of The Africa Institute, Sharjah, UAE. He served as the Madeleine Haas Russell Professor, Departments of African and Afro-American Studies and Fine Arts, Brandeis University (2016-2018). Hassan is an art critic and curator, and editor and co-founder of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (Duke University Press). He currently serves as a member of the editorial advisory board of Atlantica, Journal of Curatorial Studies and International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. He also served as consulting editor of African Arts. Read more about him on our staff pages.

As part of the Faculty and Fellows seminar series, The Africa Institute invited Professor Abdourahmane Idrissa, Senior Researcher, African Studies Centre, Leiden University to speak about his perspectives and projects in his talk titled, “A few ideas on Africa in World History” on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 held at Khalid School Auditorium.

As part of the Faculty and Fellows seminar series, The Africa Institute invited Professor Abdourahmane Idrissa, Senior Researcher, African Studies Centre, Leiden University to speak about his perspectives and projects in his talk titled, “A few ideas on Africa in World History” on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 held at Khalid School Auditorium.

The seminar primarily revolved around two working book projects: the first segment was on his developing proposal on “Sunset Empire: Songhay and the Birth of the Modern World” which will act as a prequel to the second segment of the session that grappled with key ideas for his upcoming book, “Africa Modern: a World History” that questioned Africa’s role in the creation of the modern world in which we live now.

As part of the reflection, the seminar was moderated by Salah M. Hassan, Director, The Africa Institute who invited an array of questions from faculty and fellows to stimulate dialogue, bring forward arguments and focus on specific aspects related to the African experience in the Americas.

“Historians of global history have tended to present the saga of the advent of the modern world is presented as that of the ‘rise of the West’ and a corresponding ‘sinking of the Rest’, and philosophies of the modern age world have supported the notion,” said Professor Abdourahmane Idriss.

“The central scene, in any event, is always the West. This book project, “Africa Modern: a World History” claims that these powerful perspectives fascinate us the way the moon does: we see only the face of it that glows with cosmic sunlight – never the whole of it. To see the whole of the moon of the modern world, that which is left in the dark must be brought to light, and I contend that the biggest chunk of that is Africa. Africa in those centuries made modernity, and largely made the West, which did not “rise” by sheer volition but through Newtonian laws of history that involved a lot of Africa.” he added.

This session marked the last of the Faculty and Fellows Seminar Series organized by the institute for the Spring of 2022.

About the Speakers:

Abdourahmane Idrissa

Rahmane Idrissa is a senior researcher at Leiden University’s Africa Studies Centre. He is a political scientist with a strong inclination toward history. As a specialist in political Islam and democratization in the Sahel, he’s written the book The Politics of Islam in the Sahel: Between Persuasion and Violence (2015) and co-edited Democratic Struggle, Institutional Reform, and State Resilience in the African Sahel. He is currently working on a book on “the Songhay Empire and the Birth of Modernity”. In French, he co-authored L’Afrique pour les nuls (“Africa for Dummies”) in 2017.

Salah M. Hassan

Salah M. Hassan is a Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences in Africana Studies, and Director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), and a professor of art history and visual culture in the Africana Studies and Research Center, and the Department of History of Art and Visual Studies, Cornell University. Salah M. Hassan is the Director of The Africa Institute, Sharjah, UAE. He served as the Madeleine Haas Russell Professor, Departments of African and Afro-American Studies and Fine Arts, Brandeis University (2016-2018). Hassan is an art critic and curator, and editor and co-founder of Nka: Journal of Contemporary African Art (Duke University Press). He currently serves as a member of the editorial advisory board of Atlantica, Journal of Curatorial Studies and International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. He also served as consulting editor of African Arts. Read more about him on our staff pages.

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