From southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, the Swahili Coast connects Africa with the Indian Ocean. Strong identification with Islam as well as urbanity, civility (uungwana), and cosmopolitanism are idealized delineations for Swahiliness which matters particularly in distinction to the African mainland. However, the borders both of the Swahili Coast as a region and of Swahiliness as a notion are blurry and require to be continuously re-enacted. In these practices of demarcation and negotiations of these demarcations, Islam plays a central role.

In this course, we attend to regional and religious entanglements and differentiations. How is the Swahili Coast embedded in national and geopolitical structures that enhance or disrupt notions of self-representation? Which role does history play and how do concrete practices shape grand narratives? Throughout the semester we address conceptual approaches that deal with connections, differentiations, and their entanglements and scrutinize them for applicability to the Swahili Coast.

This course develops its topics over the duration of the semester and thus requires active participation. The literature will be provided and must be read prior to each session. Depending on need, the language of instruction will be German or English.