Newswise — EVANSTON, Ill. --- The analysis of African manuscripts, rarely seen in the West, will be the subject of a week-long workshop at Northwestern University. 

Beginning on Monday, Aug. 14 through Aug. 20, African curators from Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, among others, will work with U.S.-based researchers on techniques related to the preservation and probing of African Arabic script manuscripts.

“This is the first workshop to bring together African curators with the end-users of their manuscripts in the U.S. to educate each other about Africa’s Islamic literary heritage,” said Rebecca Shereikis, associate director of the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) at Northwestern.

Media are welcome to attend. Please RSVP with Mohamed Abdelfattah ([email protected])

For a schedule of the workshops, click here.

The central mission of ISITA is to highlight and explore Africa’s written history through the study of its manuscripts.

“Contrary to the assumption that Africa has only oral history, these Arabic script manuscripts show a long and elaborate written tradition in the continent,” said Robert Launay, interim director of ISITA and professor of anthropology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern.

Among the curators is Mahmood Mohammad Jimba Moshood from Ilorin, Nigera. Moshood is the director of the Center for Ilorin Manuscripts and Culture at Kwara State University. Under his directorship, the Center for Ilorin Manuscripts and Culture has collected more than 1,600 manuscripts from private collections.

Hassen Muhammed Kawo from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, also is among the curators. Kawo is a lecturer in the Arabic Program Unit at Addis Ababa University and a doctoral candidate in historical studies at the University of Cape Town where he is affiliated with the Tombouctou Manuscripts Project.

The international team of 10 instructors will lead the sessions. Participants include curators of African Arabic script manuscript collections, plus one calligrapher, coming from eight countries across Africa.

Attendees will include American researchers, graduate students, librarians, museum professionals and faculty from institutions around the country whose work involves the study of such manuscripts.

In addition to ISITA, the Center for African Studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and the Centre for the Study of Manuscript Cultures at the University of Hamburg also are sponsors of the event.


The Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) is the first research center in the United States devoted entirely to the study of Islam and Africa. ISITA sponsors and facilitates collaborative interdisciplinary scholarship on the Islamic tradition of learning in Africa and promotes broader awareness of the role of Islam in African societies, past and present.

More News at Northwestern Now