Dr Jeremy Dell

Lecturer in African History pre 1900; African History


Affiliated research centres

Edinburgh Centre for Global History, Centre of African Studies, Centre for the Study of Modern and Contemporary History.


I am a scholar of African global history, with a specialisation in the history of Islam in the Western Sahel. My research and teaching are anchored in the continent's own intellectual traditions, and I strive to make these traditions come alive in all of my work. My current book project, Saving Tradition: Archiving Islam in the Western Sahel, explores the history of collecting and preserving Arabic manuscripts amidst social and political upheaval in the West African countries of Senegal and Mali. I hold a doctorate in History from the University of Pennsylvania and have had significant research and language-training stints in Senegal, Mali, and Egypt. My work is based primarily in Arabic, Wolof and French sources, and I am an advocate of using African languages in historical research. Before joining HCA in January 2020, I was the inaugural Modern Intellectual History Postdoctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College (USA). I advise projects at the undergraduate and graduate level on a range of topics in African and Islamic history.

External appointments

External Reviewer, Cahier d'Études Africaines

Undergraduate teaching

  • African Intellectual History
  • Transnational Islam and the African Diaspora
  • Historical Skills & Methods II ("Grappling with Slavery in 19th-century West Africa")

Postgraduate teaching

  • Islamic Africa
  • Historical Methodology ("Global History")
  • Historical Research: Approaches to the Past ("Global History")

Current PhD students supervised

  • Gregory Amoah (African Studies), "Sermonising Aboard Public Transportation in Urban Ghana: Beyond Dilemmas of Competing Rights Claims."
  • Emma Flanagan (History), "Spaces, Places, and Modes of Mobilisation: Tracing Pathways to Political Activism by Women across Post-War French North and West Africa."

Past PhD students supervised

  • Francesca Baldwin (MSc), 'Faces of War: An Analysis of Female Combatants in Civil War and Revolution in Sierra Leone, 1991-2002.' Now a PhD student at the University of Reading. 

Research summary


  • Africa


  • Comparative & Global History
  • Gender
  • Ideas
  • Imperialism
  • Labour
  • Language & Literature
  • Politics
  • Religion


  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

I am primarily interested in the intersecting histories of Sufism, Islamic law, and the global history of the book. Side projects have examined these topics in the context of French colonialism. I am currently in the early stages of developing a major second project on the history of domestic labour in Senegal. 

Forthcoming. “Print in the Literature of Islamic West Africa," in Print Cultures and African Literature, 1860-1960, edited by Karin Barber and Stephanie Newell (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). 

“Printing and Textual Authority in the Twentieth-Century Muridiyya,” in Manuscript and Print in the Islamic Tradition, ed. Scott Reese (De Gruyter, 2022), 271–88, https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110776485-010.

“The Sound of Laïcité,” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 41, no. 2 (2021): 185–93, https://doi.org/10.1215/1089201X-9127063.

““Ajami and the Transmission of Sophisticated Knowledge,” Section Introduction to Part IV of Islamic Scholarship in Africa, edited by Ousmane Oumar Kane (Boydell and Brewer Limited, 2021), 323–25, https://doi.org/10.1017/9781787446076.019.

“Unbraiding the Qur'an: Wolofal and the Tafsir Tradition of Senegambia.” Islamic Africa 9, no. 1 (2018): 55-76. Traduction française: "Démêler le Coran: Wolofal et la tradition de tafsīr en Sénégambie," dans Erudition Islamique en Afrique: Nouvelles pistes de recherche et contexte mondial, sous la direction d'Ousmane Oumar Kane (Dakar: CEDIS, 2021), 402-418.

“An Encyclopedic Treasure.” Review of an Arabic critical edition of Kanz al-asrār wa-lawāqiḥ al-afkār (Le trésor des secrets et des idées fécondes), edited by Belkacem Daouadi.  Journal of African History 55, no. 1 (2014): 126-127.

“Recreating Touba: Pilgrimage Videos in the American Muridiyya.” Islamic Africa 4, no. 1 (2013): 49-68.


Saving Tradition: Archiving Islam in the Western Sahel (book manuscript)