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Born in The Gambia and descended from an ancient African royal family, Lamin Sanneh was a naturalized U.S. citizen who was educated on four continents. He earned degrees in history and Islamic studies and taught in several Universities, including the University of Ghana, Legon, the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, and at Harvard, before serving at Yale from 1989-2019 as the D. Willis James Professor of Missions & World Christianity, Professor of History, Professor of International and Area Studies. He was a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, and an Honorary Research Professor at the School of Oriental & African Studies in the University of London. Dr. Sanneh was the recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Edinburgh and Liverpool Hope University.
He served several times as chair of Yale’s Council on African Studies. He was an editor-at-large of the ecumenical weekly The Christian Century and a contributing editor of the International Bulletin of Missionary Research, and he served on the editorial boards of several academic journals and encyclopedias. He served as consultant to the Pew Charitable Trusts; was an official consultant at the 1998 Lambeth Conference in London; and was founding member of the Council of 100 Leaders of the World Economic Forum. In 2004-05 he was the recipient of the John W. Kluge Chair in the Countries and Cultures of the South at the Library of Congress. For his academic work, Prof. Sanneh was made Commandeur de l’Ordre National du Lion, Senegal’s highest national honor.
He was a fellow of Trumbull College at Yale and was appointed by John Paul II to serve on the Pontifical Commission of the Historical Sciences at the Vatican and by Pope Benedict XVI to the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with Muslims. Sanneh was the author of over two hundred articles in scholarly journals and of more than a dozen books on Islam and Christianity. He was editor of the multi-volume Oxford Studies in World Christianity series. In 2011 he received the Marianist Award for his teaching and scholarship from the University of Dayton.
The Crown and the Turban: Muslims and West African Pluralism, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997. Published in Spanish as La Corona y el Turbante, Barcelona: Bellaterra, 2001.
Whose Religion is Christianity? The Gospel Beyond the West, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003.
Disciples of All Nations: Pillars of World Christianity, New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Translating the Message: The Missionary Impact on Culture, Revised Expanded 2nd Edition, Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 2009.
Summoned from the Margin: Homecoming of an African, a memoir, Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishers, 2012.
The African Christian and Islam, co-edited with John Azumah, Carlisle, UK: Langham Monographs, 2013;
Beyond Jihad: The Pacifist Tradition & West African Islam, Oxford University Press, 2016.