Swahili Muslim Publics and Postcolonial Experience

Swahili Muslim Publics and Postcolonial Experience

Kai Kresse
Distribution: Global except Ethiopia, Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan (Rep.
Publication date: 12/17/2018
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-03754-1
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Swahili Muslim Publics and Postcolonial Experience is an exploration of the ideas and public discussions that have shaped and defined the experience of Kenyan coastal Muslims. Focusing on Kenyan postcolonial history, Kai Kresse isolates the ideas that coastal Muslims have used to separate themselves from their "upcountry Christian" countrymen. Kresse looks back to key moments and key texts—pamphlets, newspapers, lectures, speeches, radio discussions—as a way to map out the postcolonial experience and how it is negotiated in the coastal Muslim community. On one level, this is a historical ethnography of how and why the content of public discussion matters so much to communities at particular points in time. Kresse shows how intellectual practices can lead to a regional understanding of the world and society. On another level, this ethnography of the postcolonial experience also reveals dimensions of intellectual practice in religious communities and thus provides an alternative model that offers a non-Western way to understand regional conceptual frameworks and intellectual practice.

Author Bio

Kai Kresse is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin, and Vice Director for Research at Leibniz Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin. Before that, he was Associate Professor of African and Swahili Studies at Columbia University. He is author of Philosophizing in Mombasa: Knowledge, Islam, and Intellectual Practice on the Swahili Coast.


“Kai Kresse’s work of translation and interpretation draws on a profound knowledge of Swahili language, acquired over many years of dedicated research, and a sensitivity to the conventions, genres, registers, and styles of written and spoken Swahili. He illuminates the whole theme of the Islamic public in a richly insightful way.”
 — Karin Barber, author of The Generation of Plays: Yoruba Popular Life in Theater

“For anyone interested in Islam and non-Western philosophy, this will be a key text. Kai Kresse offers a historically and culturally grounded analysis of coastal Swahili knowledge production, especially as it concerns understandings of society and the position of postcolonial coastal Muslims.”
 — Kelly Askew, author of Performing the Nation: Swahili Music and Cultural Politics in Tanzania

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