Professors Discuss Boko Haram, and Why We Should Pay Attention To It

The radical Sunni Islamic sect of Boko Haram originally went by the name, Jama’atu Ahlis Sunnar Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, or “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet’s teachings and jihad.” The group’s more widely known name of Boko Haram means “Western education is sin.” While initially non-violent and preaching a doctrine of withdrawal from what they perceived as a corrupt Nigerian state, they now increasingly engage in confrontation and deadly attacks on a wide range of targets.

Bowdoin’s Africana Studies program recently organized a panel of professors to sit down and discuss the background and significance of Boko Haram.

Tess Chakkalakal, associate professor of Africana studies and English and director of Bowdoin’s Africana Studies Program, introduced the speakers.

Daren Kew, associate professor and chair of the Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance in the McCormack Graduate School, is the executive director of the Center for Peace, Democracy, and Development at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He has researched and consulted on the prevention of conflicts in Nigeria and elsewhere, highlighting in particular the role of religious civil society groups in promoting peace and democratization.

Scott MacEachern, professor of Anthropology at Bowdoin, has directed archaeological research projects in different countries in Africa and North America, but much of his research since the mid-1980s has taken place around the Mandara Mountains of northern Cameroon and Nigeria. His main research interests are in state formation processes in Africa, the archaeological studty of ethnicity and social boundaries, and African and global historical genetics.

Ericka Albaugh, assistant professor of government at Bowdoin, teaches courses on Africa, language politics, development and state-building. She has researched in Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana, and her more recent explorations focus on violence and language spread in West Africa.

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