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Shi’i Cosmopolitanisms in Africa: Lebanese Migration and Religious Conversion in Senegal

Mara A. Leichtman, the writer of the book, offers an in-depth study of Shi‘i Islam in two very different communities in Senegal: the well-established Lebanese diaspora and Senegalese “converts” from Sunni to Shi‘i Islam of recent decades.

This book is based on a total of approximately two years of ethnographic research in Senegal, consisting of repeated trips to Dakar of various lengths (ranging from ten days to one and half years) between 2000 and 2013. The writer began this project with a one-month stay in Beirut the summer of 2000, where she also returned briefly in 2011 and 2007. Visits to Shia organizations based in London and Paris provided additional insight into shia cosmopolitanism.

This book divided into two parts. Part one, which comprises four chapters, focuses in the historu of lebamese migration to Senegal and the social, economic, and religious develippment of the community over several generations. It explains how Lebanese Muslims and Christians (almost evenly proportioned in the first generation) came together as a secular “Afro-Lebanese” ethnic group in response to empire politics and colonial rivalries, which caused continuous tensions between religion, ethnicity, race, and nationalism. Part two contains three chapters that explore the expansion of Shia Islam among Senegalese, discoussing competing Lebanese, Iranian, and indigenous African leadership and featuring conversion stories.

Mara A. Leichtman offers an in-depth study of Shi‘i Islam in two very different communities in Senegal: the well-established Lebanese diaspora and Senegalese “converts” from Sunni to Shi‘i Islam of recent decades. Sharing a minority religious status in a predominantly Sunni Muslim country, each group is cosmopolitan in its own way. Leichtman provides new insights into the everyday lives of Shi‘i Muslims in Africa and the dynamics of local and global Islam. She explores the influence of Hizbullah and Islamic reformist movements, and offers a corrective to prevailing views of Sunni-Shi‘i hostility, demonstrating that religious coexistence is possible in a context such as Senegal.

About the Author

Mara A. Leichtman is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Muslim Studies at Michigan State University. She is editor (with Mamadou Diouf) of New Perspectives on Islam in Senegal: Conversion, Migration, Wealth, Power, and Femininity.

Table of Contents

Preface: Islam and Politics
Acknowledgments
Note on Transliteration
Introduction: Locating Cosmopolitan Shi‘i Islamic Movements in Senegal
Part I. The Making of a Lebanese Community in Senegal
Introduction to Part I.
1. French Colonial Manipulation and Lebanese Survival
2. Senegalese Independence and the Question of Belonging
3. Shi‘i Islam Comes to Town: A Biography of Shaykh al-Zayn
4. Bringing Lebanese “Back” to Shi‘i Islam
Part II. Senegalese Conversion to Shi‘i Islam
5. The Vernacularization of Shi‘i Islam: Competition and Conflict
6. Migrating from One’s Parents’ Traditions: Narrating Conversion Experiences
Interlude: ‘Umar: Converting to an “Intellectual Islam”
7. The Creation of a Senegalese Shi‘i Islam
Coda: On Shi‘i Islam, Anthropology, and Cosmopolitanism
Glossary
Notes
References

Bibliographic Information

Title: Shi’i Cosmopolitanisms in Africa: Lebanese Migration and Religious Conversion in Senegal

Editor: Mara A. Leichtman

Publisher: Indiana University Press

 Language: English

Length: 320 pages

ISBN:  978-0-253-01605-8

Pub. Date: August 27, 2015

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