Meet the Inaugural William A. Brown Research Award Winner

The William A. Brown Research Award is intended to support research on Islam or West African history. Funds must be used to advance research; recipients may propose to use this award for travel, archival work, or as direct support for writing. Graduate students in good standing from any department or program who are engaged in the study of Islam or West African history are eligible to apply.

Jibril Gabid is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of African Cultural Studies. Prior to attending UW-Madison, Jibril received his B.A. from the University of Ghana where he majored in Arabic and Psychology. After his undergraduate studies, he was awarded the African Graduate Fellowship at the American University in Cairo where he earned an M.A. in Arabic Language and Literature. In 2009, Jibril won a Government of Ghana scholarship to study Arabic at Ain-Shams University, Cairo. In 2019, he received the Honored Instructor Award in recognition of his contribution to student learning at UW-Madison.

Jibril’s research interest is Islamic West Africa, with a focus on 19th- and 20th-century Arabic literary productions. His previous work was on West African Arabic poetry. It contributed to making this material more accessible by producing critical editions and translations of selected manuscripts. However, his current research seeks to explore ways of (re)imagining Islamic West Africa, foregrounding West Africa Muslim scholarship by shifting the gaze of Islamic knowledge production from an Arabo-centric one to one that privileges and affirms the contributions of Black West African Muslim intellectuals. Thus, putting them in dialogue with and at the center of discourse on Africa and the Islamic world.

This upcoming Summer, Jibril plans to conduct preliminary research in Nigeria and Ghana. He intends to visit the Nigerian National Archives in Kaduna, the University of Ibadan’s Center of Arabic Manuscripts, and the Institute of African Studies at the University of Ghana, where most of the manuscripts he is interested in are housed. His task would be to locate the manuscripts, identify their authors, catalog the different versions of the same manuscript, and identify the manuscripts most relevant to his research. Upon return to Madison, Jibril will produce critical editions and translations of the Arabic manuscripts, which will then form the basis for his research proposal and dissertation.

Jibril is therefore extremely honored to be the recipient of the inaugural William A. Brown Research Award. He is grateful to the African Studies Program for supporting his research and making his fieldwork possible.

Gifts in Bill’s memory can be made by check, credit card, or appreciated stock. Checks should be made out to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, including the William A Brown Lecture Fund on the memo line, and sent to the University of Wisconsin Foundation, U.S. Bank Lock-box, P.O. Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807. Alternatively, you may donate by credit card at the Foundation’s website:  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Katie Rather at 608-265-3526 or at the Foundation.

If you have already pledged, please accept our thanks.

Produced by Cecilia Kyalo