James F. Searing
History Department


James Searing is the Chair of the History Department, with research interests in West Africa. He teaches African history and topics in world history. His research focuses on the history of Senegal, combining an ethnographic approach to peoples and cultures with Senegal’s historical encounters with Islam, the Atlantic world, and French colonial rule. His publications include West African Slavery and Atlantic Commerce: The Senegal River Valley, 1700-1860 (Cambridge, 1993) and “God Alone is King”: Islam and Emancipation in Senegal, 1859-1914: The Wolof Kingdoms of Kajoor and Bawol (Portsmouth, 2001). His current research examines ethnicity and conversion through a fieldwork based study of the Sereer-Safèn, an ethnic minority in the Thiès region who converted to Islam in the colonial period. Publications related to that project include, “No Kings, No Lords, No Slaves’: Ethnicity and Religion among the Sereer-Safèn of Western Bawol (Senegal), 1700-1914,” Journal of African History, 43 (2002): 407-29, “Conversion to Islam: Military Recruitment and Generational Conflict in a Sereer-Safèn village (Bandia), 1920-1938,” Journal of African History, 44 (2003): 73-94 and “The Time of Conversion: Christian and Muslims among the Sereer-Safèn of Senegal, 1914-1950s,” in Benjamin F. Soares (ed.), Muslim-Christian Encounters in Africa, (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2006).