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Biography Mahmood Mamdani

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Mahmood Mamdani Mahmood Mamdani
Mahmood Mamdani
An Indian-Ugandan academic, author and political commentator.


Mahmood Mamdani Biography



Mahmood Mamdani (born 23 April 1946) is an Ugandan academic, author and political commentator. He is the Director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government at the School of International and Public Affairs and the Professor of Anthropology, Political Science and African Studies at Columbia University.


Early life

Mamdani is a third generation Ugandan of Indian origin. He was born in Mumbai and grew up in Kampala. Both his parents were born in the neighbouring Tanganyika Territory (present day Tanzania). He was educated at the Government Primary School in Dar es Salaam, Government Primary School in Masaka, K.S.I. Primary School in Kampala, Shimoni and Nakivubo Government Primary Schools in Kampala and at Old Kampala Senior Secondary School.



In 1996, he was appointed as the inaugural holder of the AC Jordan chair of African studies at the University of Cape Town. He left after having disagreements with the administration on his draft syllabus of a foundation course on Africa called 'Problematizing Africa'. This was dubbed as the Mamdani Affair. From 1998 to 2002 he served as President of Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA). In December 2001, he gave a speech on Making Sense of Violence in Postcolonial Africa at the Nobel Centennial Symposia in Oslo, Norway.


Mamdani specializes in the study of African and international politics, colonialism and post‐colonialism, and the politics of knowledge production. His works explore the intersection between politics and culture, a comparative study of colonialism since 1452, the history of civil war and genocide in Africa, the Cold War and the War on Terror, and the history and theory of human rights.


In 2008, in an open online poll, Mamdani was voted as the 9th "top public intellectual" in the world on the list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (US). His essays have appeared in the London Review of Books, among other journals.



June 21, 2012

updated: 2013-05-03

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