Department of Religious Studies
Office: Crowe Hall 4-145, 1860 Campus Drive
Phone: (847) 491-3080
Rüdiger Seesemann is an Islamicist specializing in the study of Islam in sub-Saharan Africa. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Mainz (Germany, 1993) and joined Northwestern University in January 2005. He has done extensive research in various West and East African countries (most notably Senegal, Sudan, and Kenya) on a variety of topics including Sufism, Islam and modernity, Islam and politics, Islamism, and Islamic education. He is the author of Ahmadu Bamba und die Entstehung der Muridiyya (Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 1993), a monograph dealing with the founder of the Muridiyya, a Sufi order based in Senegal, and The Divine Flood: Ibrahim Niasse (1900-1975) and the Roots of a Twentieth-Century Sufi Revival (New York: Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Together with Roman Loimeier he has edited the collective volume The Global Worlds of the Swahili (Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2006). He is the co-editor of the series “Islam in Africa,” published by E.J. Brill, and deputy editor of the electronic journal Islamic Africa.
Seesemann’s course offerings include Introduction to Islam; The Qur’an; Muslim Saints; Sufi Orders in Sub-Saharan Africa; Sufism: Doctrines, Beliefs, Practices; The Evolution of Islamic Political Thought; Theories and Practices of Knowledge in Islam; Converts and Apostates; and Islam and the Clash of Civilizations. He also teaches at the graduate level, where he is involved in the graduate track “Islam in Africa.”
At Northwestern’s Institute for the Study of Islamic Thought in Africa (ISITA) Seesemann currently directs a research project (funded by the Ford Foundation) concerned with literature produced by members of the Tijaniyya Sufi order, Africa’s largest. His latest project investigates the interplay between competing Islamic traditions as reflected in theories and practices of Islamic knowledge in various African countries. Seesemann is also an active member of Northwestern’s Program of African Studies, various Middle East initiatives on campus (MENA, Middle East Forum), and the French Interdisciplinary Group.
Ahmadu Bamba und die Entstehung der Muridiyya. Rüdiger Seesemann. Berlin: Klaus Schwarz, 1993.
The Global Worlds of the Swahili. Rüdiger Seesemann and Roman Loimeier. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2006.
"Three Ibrahims: Literary production and the remaking of the Tijaniyya Sufi order in twentieth-century Sudanic Africa." Die Welt des Islams 49, 2009 (pp. 299-333).
“Being as good Muslims as Frenchmen: On marabouts, colonial modernity, and the Islamic sphere in French West Africa" (co-author with Benjamin F. Soares). Journal of Religion in Africa 39, 2009 (pp. 91-120).
“Between tradition and reform: The Hadrami model of Islamic learning in 20th-century Kenya." Orientwissenschaftliche Hefte 22, 2007 (pp. 37-59).
"Kenyan Muslims, the aftermath of 9/11 and the 'war on terror'." In: Islam and Muslim Politics in Africa, ed. Benjamin F. Soares & René Otayek. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007 (pp. 157-176).
"Between Sufism and Islamism: The Tijâniyya and Islamist rule in the Sudan." Princeton Papers. Interdisciplinary Journal for Middle Eastern Studies 15 (Sufism and Politics, ed. Paul Heck), 2006 (pp. 23-57).
"Islamism and the paradox of secularization. The case of Islamist ideas on women in the Sudan." Sociologus. Journal for Empirical Social Anthropology 55, 2005 (pp. 89-118).
"The takfîr debate. Part II: The Sudanese arena." Sudanic Africa 10, 1999 (pp. 65-110).
"The takfîr debate. Sources for the study of a contemporary dispute among African Sufis, Part I: The Nigerian arena." Sudanic Africa 9, 1998 (pp. 39-70).