A third generation East African of South Asian descent, a graduate of Shimoni and Nakivubo Primary Schools and of Old Kampala Senior Secondary School, Mamdani was expelled from the country by Idi Amin in 1972. He then taught at the University of Dar-es-Salaam and returned to Uganda in 1979 to teach at Makerere where he became dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences in 1984. Mamdani set up Centre for Basic Research as Uganda’s first independent research NGO in 1987.
He left Uganda in 1996 to take up appointments at the University of Cape Town (1996-99) and Columbia University In 1999. His work explores the role of citizenship, identity, and the creation of historical narratives in post colonial Africa. More recently, he has focused his attention on political Islam and U.S. foreign policy, arguing that modern Islamist terrorism is a byproduct of the privatization of violence in the final years of the Cold War.
24 April 2012 – Professor Mahmood Mamdani was awarded a Honorary degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal by Chancellor and Premier; Dr. Zweli Mkhize at the Olympia hall in Pietermaritzburg.
Mahmood Mamdani, the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology and African Studies, continues to build on and add to a record of scholarship that made him the world’s foremost authority on African Studies.
Since writing Citizen and Subject , the definitive analytical history of late colonialism in Africa, which was awarded the Herskovitz Prize of the African Studies Association for the best book in English in African Studies published in 1996, Mamdani authored Good Muslim, Bad Muslim , an internationally acclaimed account of the Cold War from an African vantage point, and definitive accounts of the Rwanda genocide [When Victims Become Killers, 2001] and the Darfur conflict [Saviors and Survivors, 2009]. Citizen and Subject was also acclaimed as one of the hundred best books on Africa written in the 20th century at the Cape Town Book Fair.
In 2008, the magazines Foreign Policy (New York)and Prospect (London) named him one of the World’s Top 10 Public Intellectuals. Columbia University awarded him the LenfestDistinguished Faculty Award in 2011, noting that “since joining Columbia in 1999, he has also enjoyed spectacular success as a teacher whose class sizes are limited only by the space available in the lecture halls.”
Prior to joining the Columbia faculty, Mamdani was a professor at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania (1973-79), Makerere University in Uganda (1980-1993), and the University of Cape Town (1996-1999). From 1998 to 2002 he served as President of CODESRIA (Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa). His essays have appeared in the New Left Review and the London Review of books, among other journals.
In 2010, Mamdani cut down his time at Columbia to one semester (September to December), and returned home to take up an appointment at Makerere as professor and Executive Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research. In that position, Mamdani has introduced a five-year inter-disciplinary Ph D program which began in January 2012 with the admission of 10 students. Applications for the program have tripled in one year, attracting students from different African countries.
Mamdani’s illustrious career has received ample global recognition. He was nominated Fellow, African Academy of Sciences (1990); received the University of Cape Town Book Award for Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (1999); invited to present one of nine papers at the Nobel Peace Prize Centennial Symposium on “The Conflicts of the 20th Century and the Solutions for the 21st Century,” Oslo (2001), and honoured asKeynote Speaker at African Union’s First Pan-African Conference of Intellectuals from Africa and the Diaspora, Dakar, Senegal (2004), and at the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers, Cape Town, South Africa (2006); received Honorary Doctorates from University of Johannesburg, South Africa (2010), Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia (2010) and University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (2012); and received the Eminent Scholar Award from the Global Development Studies Section of the International Studies Association, 50th Annual Convention, New York (2009). He was nominated as Member of Advisory Group of Eminent Persons, United Nations High Commission for Refugees [UNHCR] (2010). As recently as December, 2010, he was named “Scholar of the Year” at the second annual African Diaspora Awards by Applause Africa magazine.