“Westernization” and the Politics of Islam in Senegal

  • Tejas Parasher University of Toronto
Keywords: Islam, Senegal, Ed van Hoven, Post-Colonial Theory, identity politics


In much postcolonial theory, identity-politics is considered a means of subversion and possible emancipation. Consciously moving away from the political culture of the colonizer towards a rediscovery and reassertion of indigenous norms is seen as an important part of the larger postcolonial project of claiming political agency. This article problematizes this argument, and makes the case for a more critical analysis of the assertion of indigenous identity. The article turns to the work of one particular theorist—Ed van Hoven—and one particular case—Islamist politics in Senegal. Charting the development of politicized Islam since independence, it draws attention to how Senegalese governments have re-enacted the attitudes of the French colonial state.