Mahmood Mamdani

Mahmood Mamdani

Department of Middle Eastern South Asian and African Studies



Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology
Faculty profile

Mahmood Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1974 and specializes in the study of African history and politics. 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. 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).  He has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being listed as one of the 'Top 20 Public Intellectuals' by Foreign Policy (US) and Prospect (UK) magazine in 2008. 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.

He teaches courses on: major debates in the study of Africa; the modern state and the colonial subject; the Cold War and the Third World; the theory, history, and practice of human rights; and civil wars and the state in Africa.

Mamdani's books include Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (2009); Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror (2004); When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and Genocide in Rwanda (2001); Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (1996), which was awarded the Herskovitz Prize of the African Studies Association;Politics and Class Formation in Uganda(1976); From Citizen to Refugee(1973); and The Myth of Population Control: Family, Class and Caste in an Indian Village (1972).


Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (New York: Pantheon, 2009)

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror (New York: Pantheon, 2004)

When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and Genocide in Rwanda (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001)

Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996)

Politics and Class Formation in Uganda (New York and London: Monthly Review Press, 1976)

Scholarly articles include:

“The Politics of Culture Talk in the Contemporary War on Terror,” Indian Journal of Politics, 43:2 (June 2009)

"Contemporary Political Terror: Its Origins in the Late Cold War,” Guild Practioner 62:1 (Winter 2005)

"Culture Talk: Six Debates That Shape the Discourse on ‘Good’ Muslims," American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 22:3 (Summer 2005)

"Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, The Cold War and the Origins of Terror,"’ India International Centre Quarterly, 32:1 (Summer 2005)

"The Secular Roots of Radical Political Islam," Turkish Policy Quarterly, 4:2 (Summer 2005)

"Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: Post-Apartheid Perspectives on America and Israel," 2003 APLA Distinguished Lecture, Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 27:1 (2004)

"Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: A Political Perspective on Culture and Terrorism," in E. Hershberg and K. W. Moore, eds., Critical Views of September 11: Analyses from Around the World (New York: The New Press, 2002)