The University of Wisconsin Press

Language and Linguistics / African Studies / Women's Studies / Islamic Studies


Engaging Modernity
Muslim Women and the Politics of Agency in Postcolonial Niger
Ousseina Alidou

Women in Africa and the Diaspora
Aili Tripp and Stanlie James, Series Editors

Runner-up, Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize, Women’s Caucus of the African Studies Association, 2007

"This will change how you think about contemporary Muslim women."
Barbara Cooper, Rutgers University

Engaging Modernity is Ousseina Alidou's rich and compelling portrait of Muslim women in Niger as they confront the challenges and opportunities of the twentieth century. Contrary to Western stereotypes of passive subordination, these women are taking control of their own lives and resisting domination from indigenous traditions, westernization, and Islam alike.

Based on thorough scholarly research and extensive fieldwork-including a wealth of interviews
Alidou's work offers insights into the meaning of modernity for Muslim women in Niger. Mixing biography with sociological data, social theory, and linguistic analysis, this is a multilayered vision of political Islam, education, popular culture, and war and its aftermath. A gripping look at one of the Muslim world's most powerful untold stories.

Ousseina Alidou is assistant professor in the Department of Africana Studies and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University and is director of the Program in African Languages and Literatures. She is coeditor of A Thousand Flowers: The Struggle for Education in African Universities and author of many articles on African linguistics, literature, and women's studies.


“A compelling study that sheds light on how some Muslim women have created themselves a space of self-determination within the constraints that are imposed on them.”
Islamic Africa

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

cover of the Alidou is white and sand, with an inset photo of a Muslim woman in a blue covering reading a book

November 2005
LC: 2005005434 HQ
264 pp.    6 x 9  
10 b/w photos

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Paper $29.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-21214-8
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Updated June 4, 2013

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