Matthew Schumann

Matthew Schumann

Keynote Speaker, MENA Symposium 2019

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies specializing in the intellectual and social history of Muslim scholarship in Pre-Modern Africa. My current research explores the texts, institutions and practices that linked Moroccan Sufi scholars with peer communities across Muslim Africa in the seventeenth–eighteenth centuries. Specifically, I engage with travel narratives, academic records, biographies, epistles, manuscripts, and other primary sources to examine the movement of Muslim scholars across the African continent during this time period.

Through my research, I hope to present an empirically rich analysis of the ideational and institutional factors that forged interdependent and multidirectional networks of scholarly exchange across Muslim Africa in the Early Modern period. As a result, I seek to interrogate prevailing notions of the ‘center’ and ‘periphery’ within the Islamic Studies. I also hope to explore the relationship between Sufism and normative Islamic scholarship, and the transmitted and rational sciences during this period. My research language is Arabic and I’ve worked with sources produced in Morocco, Mauritania, Mali, Nigeria, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and the Hijaz.

I graduated from Rice University in 2010 with a B. A. in Religious Studies, with Honors and I received the Saba Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement in Religious Studies. After graduation, I served as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Fes, Morocco from 2010–2011. I stayed in Morocco for an additional year to study Classical Arabic in Fes’ Old Medina from 2011–2012. In the Fall of 2012, I moved to Doha, Qatar, where I studied Arabic at Qatar University as part of Georgetown University’s Qatar Scholarship program. During this program, I met my wife, a fellow Arabist and traveler, whom I wed in the Summer of 2013. I began my graduate studies at Princeton in the Fall of 2013.

Source: Princeton University