Fallou Ngom

see fieldwork photos

Professor of Anthropology and Director of the African Studies Center

Office: 232 Bay State Road
Office Phone: 617-353-7305
E-mail: fngom@bu.edu

Spring 2020: TBD 

Education History
PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MA, University of Montana
BA, Université Gaston Berger de Saint-Louis

Areas of Expertise

  • African sources of knowledge in non-Roman scripts
  • Ajami sources in Africa and the diaspora
  • Islam and grassroots literacies in Africa
  • Sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology
Recent Publications

Muslims beyond the Arab World: The Odyssey of ʿAjamī and the Murīdiyya (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016).

“West African Manuscripts in Arabic and African Languages and Digital Preservation,” in Oxford Research Encyclopedias: African History, Thomas Spear, editor, June 2017.

“Ajami Literacies of West Africa,” in Tracing Language Movement in Africa, Ericka A. Albaugh and Kathryn M. de Luna, editors (Oxford University Press, 2018), 143-164.

View Professor Ngom’s CV

Current Research
Professor Ngom’s research interests focus on the intellectual written histories of Africa, the interactions between African languages and non-African languages, the adaptations of Islam in Africa, and Ajami literatures (records of African languages written in enriched forms of the Arabic script) in Africa and the diaspora. His recent work focuses on Islam and grassroots literacies in Africa, and sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology. He has held Fulbright, ACLS, and Guggenheim fellowships. His most recent research has been supported by the British Library Endangered Archives Programme and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His work has appeared in the African Studies Review, History Compass, Islamic Africa, Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, Language Variation and Change, and International Journal of the Sociology of Language. His book, Muslims beyond the Arab World: The Odyssey of ʿAjamī and the Murīdiyya (Oxford University Press, 2016), won the 2017 Melville J. Herskovits Prize for the best book in African studies.


  • AN 312: Peoples and Cultures of Africa
  • AN 327: Islam in Africa
  • AN 521: Sociolinguistics
  • AN 524: Language Contact in Africa
  • AN 532: Literacy and Islam in Africa