Rethinking Islamism in Western Africa

Mohammed Sulemana, Govand Azeez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What factors have caused and sustained Islamism in West Africa? In answering this historically relevant question, this article re-examines the dominant narratives and hegemonic schools of thought that have attempted to tackle this phenomenon. Drawing from existing theoretical trends, this article repackages and synthesises their hypotheses into a basic formula. Escaping the ideological trappings of the past and overcoming the old structure-agency and material-ideational divide, this article argues that in West Africa, and the Sahel-Sahara region in particular, prerequisites for terrorism and factors that allow an effective dissemination of 'Salafi-jihadism' are primarily located in geography (human and physical) and history. Islamism, this article argues, is thus a mix of context-derived geopolitical and contemporary factors and a case of ideational resuscitation of historical events and religious memories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages17
JournalThe Australasian Review of African Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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