Juli 2017
11.07.2017 - 12.07.2017


Female Voices in Islam in 20th Century West Africa

11 July 2017, University of Bayreuth


Public Lecture “There is no such thing as bloodsucking”: Accusations along the Slave Routes of Mauritania
by Prof Dr Erin Pettigrew

12 July 2017, 6 pm, S 40, RW II

Currently, academics tend to study and analyse Islam as a “discursive tradition.” This brings specific questions to the fore: Who speaks? On what grounds? Who listens? Who counter-speaks? Etc. These questions have commonly been answered by: The ʿulamāʾ, whose statements, sermons, and texts have accordingly been amply studied and discussed. This is not to denigrate the work that has been accomplished in this field of study, but recently this rather narrow take has been broadened by including allegedly marginal figures and their attempts to “speak for Islam” into the picture. Thereby, the voices and statements of the untutored, ordinary believers, odd birds, and, not the least, women have become matters of concern and research. As recent research shows, there are many and diverse female voices that do “speak for Islam” which should be considered as part and parcel of the “discursive tradition” of this religion. Furthermore, recent studies have also stressed that we need to look beyond the paradigmatic case of the ʿulamāʾ speaking in learned circles or mosques, if we wish to grasp the “discursive tradition” of Islam in its wider breadth and depth. Nonetheless, women who wish to make their voices heard in Islamic discourses or to access certain settings face specific challenges that men do not. These need to be taken into account if we wish not only to broaden the range of voices that speak in ongoing Islamic discourses but to understand the limitations and regulations that these discourses impose or entail. While the thus somewhat marginalized female voices certainly have an impact, the discourses also have an impact on them and their possible reach.
The suggested workshop builds on and furthers this field of research by bringing together BIGSAS fellows, international scholars, and other guests who have done or are currently doing research on this topic. The guests include Britta Frede (ZMO Berlin) and Erin Pettigrew (New York University, Abu Dhabi). BIGSAS fellows will read selected publications of the guests, relate them to their work, and give extended responses which will be discussed during the workshop. The workshop will take place during the day of July 11, 2017, and is on registration only. To register for the workshop please send an email to until 30 June 2017, by the latest. Erin Pettigrew will give a public lecture to which everyone is cordially invited in the evening of 12 July 2017, at 6 pm in S40, RW II on campus.