Abdulbasit Kassim

Postdoctoral Fellow (2023-2023)


Abdulbasit Kassim is an interdisciplinary historian of West Africa and the African Diaspora with a focus on the histories and cultures of Muslim societies. He is the co-editor of the book The Boko Haram Reader: From Nigerian Preachers to the Islamic State (Oxford University Press and Hurst Publishers, 2018). He is currently completing his first single-authored book, Requiem for a West African Caliphate: A Social and Intellectual History of Hausaland and Bornu, 1450-2015. This book examines the continuities and changes in the textual practices, discursive productions, and doctrinal interpretations that reformers, dissidents, and rebels across Muslim West Africa have debated, enunciated, and deployed to legitimize their projects of reform and jihad from the mid-fifteenth century to the present.


During his postdoctoral fellowship at CSAAD, Kassim will continue the research for his second book project From the Black Atlantic to Sankoré. This project examines the history of racial identity formations as they intersect with sacred knowledge transmission in the “return mission” of Muslims from the Black Atlantic and the African Diaspora who migrate back to the ancient centers of learning in West Africa to globalize the intellectual and religious heritage of their ancestral origins.

Kassim received his PhD from Rice University in August 2022. He held a postdoctoral fellowship for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar “Unarchiving Blackness: Why the Primacy of African and African Diaspora Studies Necessitates a Creative Reconsideration of Archives” at the Center for Ideas and Society University of California, Riverside from 2022 to 2023. He also held a predoctoral fellowship at the Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa and the Program of African Studies at Northwestern University from 2019 to 2021. Kassim’s research is a longue dureé study tracing questions about continuities, discontinuities, ruptures, and changes in the history of ideas that have fundamentally shaped past and present societies and peoples across time and space in their varied and situated cultural, social, political, economic, and material histories, placing Africa at the center of the narrative. His cross-temporal research spans medieval, colonial, and contemporary African history. He studies both the “yesterday” and the “today” and traces the connections between those, the ideas that circulated, those that survived, and those that were suppressed. He has training in codicology, philology, Arabic-Ajami manuscripts, and the use of primary historical sources in Afro-Asiatic and Nilo-Saharan languages (texts, oral histories, and material artifacts) that allows him to draw upon the vocabularies, methodologies, and discursive tools of multiple disciplines. He has conducted field and archival research in Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, Mali and Sudan. His work has received support from the Mellon FoundationAmerican Council of Learned SocietiesAfrican Studies Association, among other institutions.

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