Dr. Abdoulaye Sounaye

Head of Research Unit "Contested Religion"

Phone: +49-(0)30-80307-218
Regional focus: West Africa, especially Niger and Nigeria
Dr. Abdoulaye Sounaye
Dr. Abdoulaye Sounaye


Since 2020
Head of the research unit "Contested Religion: Between Religiosity, Morality, and Intellectual Culture" at ZMO
Since 2013
Research Fellow at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient
2011 - 2013
Lecturer Abdou Moumouni University, Niamey, Niger
2009 - 2010
Interim Director American School of Niamey, Niger
2001 - 2005
Lecturer Abdou Moumouni University, Niamey, Niger


PhD in Religious Studies / Anthropology, Northwestern University
2003 - 2005
MA in Religious Studies, Arizona State University



2016, Islam et Modernité Contribution a l’Analyse de La ré-islamisation Au Niger, L’Harmattan.

2010, Muslim Critics of Secularism: Ulama and Democratization in Niger, Lambert Academic.

Selected Journal Articles and Book Chapters

2018, “Salafi Youth on Campus in Niamey, Niger: Moral Motives, Political Ends”, in: What Politics: Youth and Political Engagement in Africa, Elina Oinas, Henri Onodera and Leena Suurpää, 209–29. Leiden: Brill.

2017, “Salafi Aesthetics: Preaching Among the Sunnance in Niamey, Niger”, in: Journal of Religion in Africa, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp. 9–41.

2017, Introduction, Special Issue Sermon in the City, Journal of Religion in Africa, vol 47, Issue 1, pp. 1–8.

2017, Salafi Revolution in West Africa. Vol. 19. Zentrum Moderner Orient Working Papers.

2016, “Let’s Do Good for Islam: Two Muslim Entrepreneurs in Niamey, Niger”, in: Cultural Entrepreneurship in Africa, 37–57. New York, N.Y.: Routledge.

2016, “Walking to the Makaranta: Production, Circulation, and Transmission of Islamic Learning in Urban Niger”, in: Islamic Education in Africa, Robert Launay, 234–52. Indianapolis and Bloomington.

2015, “Irwo Sunnance yan-no! 1: Youth Claiming, Contesting and Transforming Salafism”, in: Islamic Africa, 6: 82–108.

2015, “Le français : langue d’élite, langue de religiosité,
outil de réislamisation au Niger”, in: Histoire, Monde et Cultures religieuses, N° 36 décembre 2015, pp. 119–140.

2014, “Mobile Sunna: Islam, Small Media and Community”, in: Social Compass, 61, 1, 21–29.

2013, “Alarama is all at once: Preacher, Media Savvy and Religious Entrepreneur”, in: Journal of African Cultural Studies, volume 25 issue 1, pp. 88–102.

2012, “Heirs of the Sheikh: Izala and its Appropriation of Usman Dan Fodio in Niger”, in: Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines, vol. 206-207, pp. 427-447.

2012, “Les Clubs des Jeunes Musulmans du Niger: un espace intergénérationnel”, in: Muriel Gomez-Perez et Marie Nathalie LeBlanc (éds.), L‘afrique des générations. Entre tensions et négociations. Paris, Karthala : pp. 166–217.

2011, “Go Find the Second Half of Your Faith with These Women!” Women Fashioning Islam in Contemporary Niger, in: The Muslim World, Vol. 101, 3, pp. 539–554. 

2011, “La «discothèque» islamique: CD et DVD au cœur de la réislamisation nigé, 22 

2011, “Doing Development the Islamic Way in Contemporary Niger”, in: Bulletin of the Euro-African Association for the Anthropology of Social Change and Development, vol. 33, pp. 61–90. 

2007, “Instrumentalizing the Qur'an in Niger Public Life”, in: Journal for Islamic Studies, Vol. 27, 2007, 211–239. 


2018, LeBlanc, Marie Nathalie, and Louis Audet Gosselin, Faith and Charity: Religion and Humanitarian Assistance in West Africa, London, Pluto Press, 2016, 224 p. Politique Africaine, 149, pp. 169–71.

2017, Jan Patrick Heiss, Musa: An essay (or experiment) in the anthropology of the individual. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot (hb €89.90 – 978 3 428 14781 6). 2015, 329 pp. Africa,87 (2).

2012, Mamadou Diouf, Tolerance, Democracy, and Sufis in Senegal. New York: Columbia University Press, 2013, in: Journal of African History.

2011, Adeline Masquelier, Women and Islamic Revival in a West African Town. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009, in: Islamic Africa, Fall 2011, pp. 123–27.

Selected Talks

19/03/2019: “An Ethnography of Salafism in Niamey, Niger”, University of Vienna, Austria

08/10/2018: Keynote : “Governance of Religion and Politics of Islam”, Lasdel / University Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger

26/04/2018: “Student Religious Organizations at Abdou Moumouni University”, University of Florida, Gainsville, USA

22/03/2018: “Uniforme, Ordre et Distinction: Les Yan Agaji au Niger”, IHA – Cheick Anta Diop University, Dakar, Senegal

01/03/2017: “Researching Religion”, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

24/08/2016: “Violences anti-Charlie au Niger”, Lasdel, Niamey, Niger

16/11/2016: “Mobilizing Youth in the Sahel”, Bonn, Germany

03/12/2015: “Le Salafisme au Campus Universitaire de Niamey”, IPE, Bordeaux, France

27/04/2015: “Le Salafisme en contexte urbain”, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

15/04/2015: “Salafisme au Niger: quels défis pour la gouvernance?”, EHESS, Marseille, France

17/02/2014: “Producing Islamic Reform: Media Practices and the Construction of Religious Authority in Niger”, Cambridge, UK

Selected Media Articles

04/04/2018, Deutsche Welle, “Title”, Interview with Researcher by Author

05/05/ 2018, Deutsche Welle, “Westafrika: Fulani-Konflikt spitzt sich zu“, Interview with Fréjus Quenum. 

01/06/2017, Deutsche Welle, “Wird der Islam in Afrika Radikaler?“, Daniel Pelz.

2016, “Jugend, Politik, Religion in Niger: Die Wahlen im Februar 2016”, INAMO 22 (86), Sommer 2016, 14-18.

27/05/2016, Deutsche Welle, “Salafismus wächst in Westafrika - Regierungen sind hilflos“, Interview with Audrey Parmentier and Dirke Köpp.

05/03/2016, Voice of America, “Les influences étrangères sur l’islam au Niger”

2011, “Islam au Niger: de la contestation à la normalisation”.

2011, “Islam au Niger: Éviter l’amalgame”.

Recent Teaching Activities

Seminar 2018
“Religion, Etat et Societe”, Lasdel, Abdou Moumouni University, Niamey, Niger

Selected Awards

2018 - 2019
Knowledge for Tomorrow, Volkswagen Foundation
2018 - 2023
Leibniz Junior Research Group, Germany
African Guest Researcher, Nordic African Institute, Uppsala, Sweden
Rethinking Development South-South Perspectives, Codesria – Clasco – Apisa, Recife, Brazil
2011 - 2013
Presidential Fellowship, Northwestern University, USA
Hunwick Research Fund / Research on History of Islam in Africa, USA
Social Science Research Council, Pre-dissertation Research, New York
Panofsky Award, Program of African Studies, Northwestern University, USA
2007 - 2008
The Gwendolen M. Carter fellowship, PAS, Northwestern University, USA
2004 - 2005
Fellowship: Islam, Disengagement of the State, and Globalization in Sub-Saharan Africa, University of Leiden, Netherlands and University of Bordeaux, France
2003 - 2005
Fulbright, USA


  • American Academy of Religion
  • American Anthropological Association
  • African Studies Association
  • West African Research Association


  • French (Fully Fluent)
  • English (Fully Fluent)
  • Hausa (Native)
  • Zarma (Native)
  • German (Intermediate)