Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

Around the Web

Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:

MacEachern, “Searching for Boko Haram”

9780190492526

Remember the Chibok girls? In 2014, the African Islamist group, Boko Haram, kidnapped hundreds of girls from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, instigating a world-wide campaign to prevail upon the group to “Bring Back Our Girls.” Four years later, half the girls are still missing. The world’s attention span, sadly, is very short.

A new book from Oxford University Press, Searching for Boko Haram: A History of Violence in Central Africa, by Bowdoin College anthropologist Scott MacEachern, traces the history of the group, which, he argues, has centuries-old roots. The publisher’s description follows:

For the past decade, Boko Haram has relentlessly terrorized northeastern Nigeria. Few if any explanations for the rise of this violent insurgent group look beyond its roots in worldwide jihadism and recent political conflicts in central Africa.

Searching for Boko Haram is the first book to examine the insurgency within the context of centuries, millennia even, of cultural change in the region. The book surveys the deep history of the lands south of Lake Chad, richly documented in archaeology and texts, to show how ancient natural and cultural events can aid in our understanding of Boko Haram’s present agenda. The land’s historical narrative stretches back five centuries, with cultural origins that plunge even deeper into the past. One important feature of this past is the phenomenon of frontiers and borderlands. In striking ways, Boko Haram resembles the frontier slave raiders and warlords who figure in precolonial and colonial writings on the southern Lake Chad Basin. Presently, these accounts are paralleled by the activity of smugglers, bandits (coupeurs de route–“road cutters”), and tax evaders. The borderlands of these countries are today places where the state often refuses to exercise its full authority because of the profits and opportunities illicit relationships afford state officials and bureaucrats. For the local community, Boko Haram’s actions are readily understandable in terms of slave raids and borderlands. They are not mysterious and unprecedented eruptions of violence and savagery, but–as the book argues–recognizable phenomena within the contexts of local politics and history.

Written from the perspective of an author who has worked in this part of Africa for more than thirty years, Searching for Boko Haram provides vital historical context to the recent rise of this terroristic force, and counters misperceptions of their activities and of the region as a whole.

“Understanding Boko Haram” (Solomon & Hentz, eds.)

In April, Routledge will release “Understanding Boko Haram: Terrorism and Insurgency in Africa,” edited by James Hentz (Virginia Military Institute) and Hussein Solomon (University of the Free State).   The publisher’s description follows:

The primary objective of this book is to understand the nature of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria.

Boko Haram’s goal of an Islamic Caliphate, starting in the Borno State in the North 9781138696228East that will eventually cover the areas of the former Kanem-Borno Empire, is a rejection of the modern state system forced on it by the West. The central theme of this volume examines the relationship between the failure of the statebuilding project in Nigeria and the outbreak and nature of insurgency. At the heart of the Boko Haram phenomenon is a country racked with cleavages making it hard for Nigeria to cohere as a modern state. Part I introduces this theme and places the Boko Haram insurgency in a historical context. There are, however, multiple cleavages in Nigeria: ethnic, regional, cultural, and religious, and Part II examines the different state-society dynamics fuelling the conflict. Political grievances are common to every society; however what gives Boko Haram the space to express such grievances through violence? Importantly, this volume demonstrates that the insurgency is, in fact, a reflection of the hollowness within Nigeria’s overall security. Part III looks at the responses to Boko Haram by Nigeria, neighbouring states, and external actors. For Western actors, Boko Haram is seen as part of the “global war on terror” (GWOT) and the fact that it has pledged allegiance to ISIS encourages this framing. However, as the chapters here discuss, this is an over-simplification of Boko Haram and the West needs to address the multiple dimension of Boko Haram.

This book will be of much interest to students of terrorism and political violence, insurgencies, African politics, war and conflict studies, and IR in general.

Thurston, “Salafism in Nigeria”

In September, Cambridge University Press released “Salafism in Nigeria: Islam, Preaching, and Politics,” by Alexander Thurston (Georgetown University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The spectre of Boko Haram and its activities in Nigeria dominates both media and 9781107157439academic analysis of Islam in the region. But, as Alexander Thurston argues here, beyond the sensational headlines this group generates, the dynamics of Muslim life in northern Nigeria remain poorly understood. Drawing on interviews with leading Salafis in Nigeria as well as on a rereading of the history of the global Salafi movement, this volume explores how a canon of classical and contemporary texts defines Salafism. Examining how these texts are interpreted and – crucially – who it is that has the authority to do so, Thurston offers a systematic analysis of curricula taught in Saudi Arabia and how they shape religious scholars’ approach to religion and education once they return to Africa. Essential for scholars of religion and politics, this unique text explores how the canon of Salafism has been used and refined, from Nigeria’s return to democracy to the jihadist movement Boko Haram.

Discussion: “Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise” (March 23)

The Hudson Institute will host a discussion, “Boko Haram, the Islamic State’s West African Franchise,”  in Washington, D.C. on March 23, 2015.  The panel will feature Nina Shea (Hudson Institute), Bukky Shonibare (Adopt-A-Camp, Nigeria), and Emmanuel Ogebe (Washington Working Group on Nigeria).

Boko Haram swore fealty to the Islamic State earlier this month. The Nigerian Islamist terrorist organization, infamous for the abduction of 276 Chibok schoolgirls last April, has a long record of violent atrocities. Recently, it has increased attacks on marketplaces and public spaces, indiscriminately murdering moderate Muslims and Christians alike. How will this new affiliation impact the operations and reach of Boko Haram?

To assess the humanitarian situation in Nigeria and the global security implications of an alliance between two of the world’s deadliest terror groups, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom Director Nina Shea will host a discussion with Bukky Shonibare and Emmanuel Ogebe. Bukky Shonibare is a strategic team member of the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign and the coordinator of Adopt-A-Camp, a program that assists internally displaced persons in Nigeria. She will provide her firsthand account of conditions on the ground. Emmanuel Ogebe, a human rights lawyer from Nigeria, will evaluate the broad impact of the new alliance between Boko Haram and the Islamic State.

Details of the event can be found here.

%d bloggers like this: