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Lansiné Kaba (1941-2023)

It is with regret that we inform the ASA community of Lansiné Kaba’s passing. As ASA Past President (1999 – 2000) and the 1975 Best Book Prize winner for his 1974 book entitled, Wahhabiyya: Islamic Reform and Politics in French West Africa (Northwestern University Press), Prof. Kaba was a prominent member of our community. He will be greatly missed.

In tribute to his life, please see the very brief excerpt below by friend and colleague J. Lorand Matory, written for a lengthier 2018 biographical and art historical essay entitled “Small Wooden People.”

Lansiné Kaba, Ph.D., is the Thomas M. Kerr Distinguished Career Professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. In 1975, he won the prestigious Melville J. Herskovits Prize, conferred by the African Studies Association for the best book of the previous year in English about Africa. And, in the year 2000, he served as the President of the African Studies Association.[1] He is an eminent historian of Islamic Africa and lifelong collector of non-Islamic African sculpture. Under the connoisseurship of one of Africa’s leading scholars, a scion of one of West Africa’s most historic Muslim dynasties, and one of the world’s leading spokespeople for Islamic ecumenism, the Lansiné Kaba Collection assembles some of the world’s finest art by the Mandinka and their neighbors. Like his collection, Professor Kaba is a brilliant synthesis of the finest in African, Islamic, and French civilizations.  

Professor Kaba’s doctoral research on the role of Muslim clerics and merchants in African nationalism in Mali and other, neighboring West African countries resulted in a dissertation that was published as a monograph, The Wahhabiyya: Islamic Reform and Politics in French West Africa, 1945-1960 (Northwestern University Press, 1974). Its treatment of history and politics broke new paths in Africana studies, resulting in his 1975 Herskovits Prize. 

[1] https://www.cmu.edu/dietrich/history/people/instructional-staff/kaba.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_Studies_Association