My research has greatly informed my teaching. I have been able to use my fieldwork and archival research experiences in ways that help me teach critically the history of societies influenced by Islam. The classes that benefited from my research were mainly upper-division and graduate as well as independent studies. I have taught eleven undergraduate and four graduate courses on different themes in Africa, including, African Antiquity, Early Africa to 1750, Modern Africa, the Internal African Diaspora, History of Women and Gender in Islamic Africa, Slavery Systems in Africa, History of Racism in Africa, History of the Sahara, History of North Africa and the Middle East and History of Colonialism and Post-colonialism in North Africa.
I have served on thesis committees and supervised several honors and MA theses (see CV upon request). My job as a teacher is to provide students with the conceptual tools needed to develop a basic framework for analysis of historical materials. I strive to teach them how to think for themselves and to claim ownership for their ideas. I teach them how to think critically and to formulate their own theses and arguments in their own words. The real fruit of undergraduate education lies in the development of disciplined thought processes. In a digital age, our students often feel overwhelmed by the untrammeled flow of information. I show them how to gather that information and how to engage it critically. I schedule a library session with our reference librarian for each class I teach. My goal is to promote an effective learning environment, in and out of the classroom.
The topics I research and teach can at times be politically charged. Therefore, when I teach controversial and sensitive issues, I try to frame the conversations in a way that gets at the historical complexity on which different ideas and views are expressed and respected. For example, in the study of Europe and Africa in the colonial era, by focusing on the humanity of both the colonizer/master and the colonized/enslaved peoples, my students understand the fullness of the historical experience. I convey to my students that nothing human is alien and nothing is too complicated for them to comprehend. We are all part of humanity; we are primarily involved in human activities and only secondarily participants in different traditions, social status and particular historical and geographic contexts. Hence, my courses give students an opportunity to take part in the dialogue about global issues and to develop an understanding of some of its stakes, in particular those concerning the politics of identity, language and human rights issues, as expressed, debated and applied in African cultures and the relation of these issues to Western thought. Our contemporary cross-cultural reality demands a fresh perspective and a new starting point of analysis. My perspective encourages students not only to think historically but also to use history as a problem-solving tool to explore the deep-rooted social troubles that confront African societies influenced by Islam and their relationship with the West.
I engage students with specific research projects in order to stimulate their interest and to enhance their understanding of Africa and Islamic societies. I bring complex social issues into the classroom and in a way that is accessible to undergraduate students with little knowledge of Africa or Islam. The classroom is a learning opportunity for the teacher as well, and every class is a work in progress. Given today’s advanced technology, online learning has become a viable option for many students. I designed an online class on History of Gender and Sexuality in Islamic Africa. This course was not only effective but also helped me rethink the way I teach in the classroom to enhance learner-centered environments regardless of the channel of delivery.
Fields of Interest:
- African History
- Slavery Systems in Africa
- Race/Ethnicity and Racism
- Gender and Women in Islamic Africa
- Colonialism and Post-colonialism in North Africa & the Middle East
- History of Islam