Two-day symposium discusses fears, realities of militant Islam in Africa

Published: March 22 2012

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Four distinguished and internationally recognized professors will visit the University of Florida Friday and Saturday to share their insights on militant Islam in Africa.

Recent violent eruptions caused by the Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the ongoing religious-inspired insurgency in Somalia are reminders of this pressing issue.

The symposium begins at 3:30 p.m. Friday in 404 Grinter Hall, and continues at 9 a.m. Saturday in 120 Pugh Hall. The event is free and open to the public.

The program includes:

Friday: 404 Grinter Hall
3:30 p.m. – Roland Marchal: Is Africa the New Frontier in the War on Terror?

Saturday: 120 Pugh Hall
9 a.m. – Ken Menkhaus: The Life Cycle of an Insurgency: Al Shabaab in Somalia and East Africa

10 a.m. – Jeremy Kennan: Al Qaeda in the Sahara-Sahel: Differentiating between its ‘Officers’ and ‘Foot Soldiers’

11:15 a.m. – Paul Lubeck: Boko Haram as “Shock Therapy” for the Nigerian Petro Oligarchy: Explaining the Structural and Discursive Power of an Islamist Insurgency from a Global Perspective

Noon to 1:30 p.m. – Lunch

1:30-3 p.m. – Plenary panel discussion: “Contextualizing Militant Islam in Africa: Fears, Realities and Policy Options”

The symposium aims to shed light on the issue of Islamic militancy in Africa, a topic often under the realm of the security and intelligence sector. Rather than framing this within the larger perspective of international security, the discussions focus on intersecting factors and actors in specific regional contexts to better understand Islamic-based militancy and violence.

The symposium’s four speakers with specialized knowledge of these regions will provide detailed insights on these movements, and will also propose nuanced perspectives on how to analyze the issue.

Speakers are Roland Marchal, of the Centre for International Studies and Research in Paris; Jeremy Keenan of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London; Paul Lubeck of the University of California, Santa Cruz; and Kenneth Menkhaus of Davidson College.
The event is organized by the Islam in Africa working group at the Center for African Studies, and co-sponsored by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, the department of political science, the department of religion, the University of Florida International Center and the Office of Research.

For more information, contact Terje Ostebo, Center for African Studies and department of religion, at 352-328-7291 or

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories