Farouk Topan

Dr Farouk Topan

Dr Farouk Topan received his PhD from SOAS, University of London, where he held the position of Senior Lecturer until 2006. He was a Research Scholar and Head, Teacher Training Programme at the Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS), London from 1977 - 1993. He has published widely on various aspects of Swahili literature, religion, spirit possession and identity in East Africa.

He is the editor, with Pat Caplan, of the volume Swahili Modernities. Culture, Politics and Identity on the East Coast of Africa (Africa World Press, 2004). Dr Topan has previously edited the Journal of African Languages and Cultures (JALC), published by Oxford University Press (Volume 10, 1997, Issues 1 and 2 with M. Mann and M. Orwin; Volume 11, 1998, Issue 1) and its successor, the Journal of African Cultural Studies, published by Carfax (Volume 11, 1998, Issue 2; Volume 12, 1999, Issue 1). He edited, with Martin Orwin, a special issue of the Journal of African Cultural Studies on 'Islamic Religious Poetry in Africa' (Volume 14, No.1, June 2001).

Contact Details
Email address: farouk.topan@aku.edu​
Telephone: 020 7380 3840

Publications (selected)


  • Topan Farouk et al (ed.), (2004) Liyongo Songs. Poems attributed to Fumo Liyongo. Cologne, Rüdiger Köppe Verlag. Also published in Swahili by the Institute of Kiswahili Research, Dar es Salaam, 2006.
  • Topan, Farouk and Caplan, Pat, (2004) Swahili Modernities. Culture, Politics and Identity on the East Coast of Africa. Trenton, N.J., Africa World Press
  • Topan, Farouk (ed.), (1971, 1977) Uchambuzi wa Maandishi ya Kiswahili [Essays on Swahili Literary Texts], Oxford University Press, Volumes 1 and 2
  • Topan, Farouk and Kamenju, G. (eds.), (1971) Mashairi ya Azimio la Arusha [Poems on the Arusha Declaration], Longman, Dar es Salaam

Chapters in Books

  • Topan, Farouk, (2008) 'Tanzania: The development of Swahili as a national and official language', Simpson, Andrew (ed.), Language and national identity in Africa, pp. 252-266, Oxford, Oxford University Press
  • Topan, Farouk, (2008) 'Swahili aesthetics: some observations', Arnold, Marion (ed.), Art in Eastern Africa, Dar es Salaam, Mkuki na Nyota Publishers
  • Topan, Farouk and Khamis, S.A.M., (2006) 'The female body in Swahili literature. Selections from Liyongo, Mwana Kuponi [sic] Biti Sham and Shaaban Robert', Winkelmann, K., Ibriszimow, D. (eds.), Zwischen Bantu und Burkina. Festschrift für Gudrun Miehe zum 65. Geburtstag, pp. 23-44, Köln, Rüdiger Köppe Verlag
  • Topan, Farouk, (2006) 'From coastal to global: erosion of the Swahili 'paradox'', Loimeier, Roman and Seesemann, Rüdiger (eds.), The Global Worlds of the Swahili. Interfaces of Islam, identity and spaces in 19th century and 20th-century East Africa, pp. 55-66, Berlin, Lit Verlag
  • Topan, Farouk, (2004) 'From Mwana Kupona to Mwamvita: female representations in Swahili  literature', Caplan, Pat and Topan, Farouk (eds.), Swahili Modernities, pp. 213-227, Trenton,  N.J, Africa World Press
  • Topan, Farouk, (2000) 'Being Muslim in East Africa: a Swahili perspective', Africa, Islam and Development, Slater, Thomas and King, Kenneth (eds.), Edinburgh, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh
  • Topan, Farouk, (2000) 'Swahili and Isma'ili perceptions of Salat', Parkin, David and Headley, Stephen (eds.), Islamic Prayer across the Indian Ocean, London, Curzon Press
  • Topan, Farouk, (2000) 'Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North', Hay, Jean Margaret (ed.) African Novels in the Classroom, pp.241-50,Boulder, Colorado, Lynne Rienner Publishers
  • Topan, Farouk, (1998) 'Langue et culture swahili a Zanzibar" [Language and culture in Zanzibar], Grand-Maison, Colette Le Cour and Crozon, Ariel (ed.), Zanzibar aujourd'hui, pp. 247-258, Paris, Karthala-Ifra
  • Topan, Farouk, (1998) 'Comment devient-on musulman?' [Muslim education in Zanzibar], Grand-Maison, Colette Le Cour and Ariel Crozon (eds.), Zanzibar aujourd'hui, pp. 299-305, Karthala-Ifra, Paris
  • Topan, Farouk, (1998) 'Le sheha:  un chef local traditionnel à Zanzibar' [The sheha: a traditional  local leader in Zanzibar], Le Guennec-Coppens, Françoise and Parkin, David Autorité et pouvoir chez les Swahili, pp.99-115, Karthala-Ifra, Paris
  • Topan, Farouk, (1996) 'Muslim Perceptions in a Swahili Oral Genre', Harrow, Kenneth (ed.), The marabout and the  muse, pp. 116-123, Portsmouth (New Hampshire), Heinemann
  • Topan, Farouk, (1994) 'Song, dance and the continuity of Swahili identity', Parkin, David (ed.) Continuity and Autonomy in Swahili Communities (ed.), pp. 139-151, Beitrage zur Afrikanistik & London, SOAS
  • Topan, Farouk, (1992) 'Body and self in a spirit-mediumship cult of Mombasa', Maw, J. and Picton, J. (eds.), Concepts of Body/Self in Africa, pp. 55-65, Vienna: AfroPub
  • Topan, Farouk, (1991) 'Réseaux religieux chez les Swahili' ['Religious networks among the   Swahili'], Le Guennec-Coppens, F. and Caplan, P. (eds.), Les Swahili entre Afrique et Arabie, pp. 39-57, Paris, Karthala
  • Topan, Farouk, (1985) 'Contemporary issues in Swahili literature', Maw, J. and Parkin, D. (eds.), Swahili Language and Society, pp. 127-138, Vienna, Afro-Pub


  • Topan, Farouk, (1992) 'Swahili as a religious language', Journal of Religion in Africa, XXII, 4, pp. 331-349
  • Topan, Farouk, (1995) 'Vugo: A virginity celebration ceremony among the Swahili of Mombasa', Journal of African Languages and Cultures, 8,1, pp. 87-107
  • Topan, Farouk, (1997) 'Biography writing in Swahili', History in Africa , 24, pp.299-307
  • Topan, Farouk, (2001) 'Projecting Islam: Narrative in Swahili poetry', Journal of African Cultural Studies, 14, 1, pp. 107-119
  • Topan, Farouk, (2006) 'Why Does a Swahili Writer Write? Euphoria, Pain, and Popular Aspirations in Swahili Literature', Research in African Literatures, Volume 37, Number 3, pp. 103-119
  • Entries in Encyclopaedia and Reference books
  • Topan, Farouk, (forthcoming) 'Literatures in African Languages: Swahili', New Encyclopaedia of Africa, Gale
  • Topan, Farouk, (forthcoming) 'Sa'id ibn Sultan', New Encyclopaedia of Africa, Gale
  • Topan, Farouk, (2006) 'Virginity [in Sub-Saharan Africa]', Joseph, Suad (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, pp. 465-6, Leiden, Boston, Brill, Volume 3
  • Topan, Farouk, (2005) 'Zanzibar: Revolution and Union (Tanzania)', Shillington, Kevin (ed.), Encyclopedia of African History, pp. 1716-1717, New York, Fitzroy Dearborn
  • Topan, Farouk, (2005) 'Wabenzi', Podder, Prem and Johnson, David(eds.), A Historical Companion to Postcolonial Literatures in English, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press
  • Topan, Farouk, (2004) 'Urban Folklore: The Swahili of Zanzibar', Peek, Philip M. & Yankah, Kwesi (eds.), African Folklore: An Encyclopaedia, pp. 485-486, Routledge, London and New York
  • Topan, Farouk, (2003) 'Islam in East African Literature', Gikandi,Simon (ed.), Encyclopaedia of African Literature, pp.242-245, Routledge, London and New York
  • Topan, Farouk, (2000) 'Swahili Literature', Douglas Killam, Ruth Rowe, James Currey (eds.), The Companion to African Literatures, pp. 278-81, Oxford, Indiana University Press Bloomington
  • Topan, Farouk, (2000) 'East African Languages', Peter France(ed.), The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, pp. 129-132, Oxford University Press, Oxford
  • Topan, Farouk, (1997) 'Swahili', The  Encyclopaedia of Islam, pp. 917-918, E.J.Brill, Leiden
  • Topan, Farouk, (1996) 'Muslim literature in sub-Saharan Africa', Nanji, A. (ed.), The  Muslim Almanac, Gale Research Inc., New York, pp. 365-69
  • Topan, Farouk, (1996) 'East Africa: Parsi and Baluchi communities', Encyclopaedia Iranica, p.643, Vol. VII, Mazda Publishers, California​