Dr Mayke Kaag has been named professor by special appointment of the Anthropology of Islam in Africa and its Diaspora at the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). The chair has been established on behalf of the African Studies Centre at Leiden University.
As a political anthropologist, Kaag conducts research on contemporary Islam in Africa and the African diaspora from the perspective of Africa's global connections. Islam – in Africa and elsewhere – is both a product of global connections and a co-constructor of them. Kaag focuses primarily on connections achieved through mobility and migration and through Islamic charities and educational institutions.
It has become particularly important to consider the dynamics of Islam and its global connections in these times of intensive globalisation, in which increasing global interdependence is developing hand in hand with major uncertainty, distrust and inequality, as well as an intensified search for connection, morality and meaning.
Muslims from sub-Saharan Africa have often been underrepresented in research on (global) Islam. With this in mind, Kaag will use her special appointment to research how West African Muslims interpret, use and help determine these connections. Local cultural and political contexts will be important in her analysis, as will the experiences that (categories of) African Muslims have of inclusion or exclusion, influenced by local, national and global power dynamics. Kaag will examine the impact that these experiences have on processes of religious meaning-making, forms of political Islam, and connections that Muslims in Africa and the Diaspora establish.
At the UvA, Kaag will participate in the ‘Exploring Diversity: Critical ethnographies of belonging and exclusion’ research programme set up by the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR).
Kaag is an experienced mentor and lecturer. She has given lectures for the Master's in International Development Studies at Utrecht University (UU) and is currently a lecturer for the Master's and Research Master's programmes in African Studies at Leiden University. Kaag will also contribute to education at the UvA, for example, by giving (guest) lectures and supervising Master's students and doctoral researchers of Islam in Africa.
After obtaining her doctorate at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in 2001, Kaag worked as a (senior) researcher at the African Studies Centre in Leiden and as an assistant professor at the Institute for International Development Studies at UU. Kaag has been an associate professor (senior lecturer) at the African Studies Centre since 2017. She is also the Director of Education and a member of the Executive Board of the African Studies Centre and has previously been the (co-)director of the African Studies master's programmes at Leiden University. In addition, Kaag leads the ‘Africa in the World: Rethinking Africa’s global connections’ research group in Leiden and chairs a working group on the same theme at the European Association of African Studies (AEGIS).