Secular and Islamic Schooling in Senegal: Reconfiguring Knowledge and Opportunity in Uncertain Times Open Access

Schaller de la Cova, Ana E. (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/08612p06f?locale=en
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Abstract

This dissertation examines how Islamic and secular schooling figure into youths' negotiations of modern personhood and the idiosyncrasies and challenges of contemporary Senegalese life. It is based on 22 months of field research in Dakar, Senegal and was funded by the Social Science Research Council, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Emory University (the Graduate School Fund for Internationalization and the African Studies Association). Drawing from Marxist educational theory, the dissertation suggests that contemporary education serves both to potentially enable young people in Senegal and as a source of much frustration and disillusionment. This lived reality of schooling undercuts state and international development discourse, which claim that education is the key to national prosperity and to the realization of people's personal goals for success.

The project's two Islamic and public school case studies are informed by data collected from students' households and their urban neighborhoods. This ethnographic data is complemented and contextualized by archival research into the development of local Islamic and secular schools, media-based analysis of the Senegalese state and public discourse, and anthropological literature on African urbanity, globalization, and modernity. The goal of this study is to examine the reciprocal influence of school socialization and daily living--with particular attention to dynamics of gender, birth order, and household composition with regard to power and agency--in the formation and pursuit of projects of the self.

It argues that urban Senegalese youth attempt to reconcile the disjuncture between conventional belief and their ambitions, on the one hand, with that of their economically-strained circumstances, on the other, by engaging in making do and by cultivating particular public personae. The term "making do" refers to a range of non-mainstream, improvisational, and creative practices people employ to pragmatically negotiate and manage in difficult conditions. While this project examines school choices within the context of Senegalese understandings of the person, it speaks to larger issues about how to deal with changing conceptions and practices of knowledge in the modern world that concern us all.

Table of Contents

1. INTRODUCTION...1

The Scholarship of Schooling

Study Design and Location

Analytic Articulations

Dissertation Map

2. ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS EDUCATION IN SENEGAL...41

Contact and Conversion

The Master-Disciple Relationship

Colonial Confrontations

New Muslims and Early Reform

A Contemporary Case: The u13 Franco-Arabe School

Curriculum and Pedagogy: Rote Repetition

Discourses of Personhood and Pragmatic Challenges

Conclusion

3. SENEGALESE PUBLIC SECULAR SCHOOLS...101

Colonial Schools in the Two Senegals

Race, Inequality, and Identity

Independence: Schooling a New Nation

Contemporary Urban Public Education

Shadowing Class 5e E

Curriculum and Pedagogy: Copying the Lesson

Authority, Discipline, and Responsibility

Conclusion

4. OUT OF THE CLASSROOM: EDUCATION'S HOME...164

Dakar's Modern Genesis

Sub(Urban) Struggle Anew

Parcels in the City

Logics of Family and Personhood in Parcelles

Conclusion

5. IMPROVISATION IN THE SENEGALESE MODERN...207

Reading Comics

Defining the Terms and Concepts

Economies of Making Do

Vernacular Meanings

Improvisation in Comparative Context

Managing in Parcelles Assainies

Another Side of Managing

International Góorgóorlus

Conclusion

6. SCHOOL REFORM, SOCIAL REFORM...268

Youth, Citizenship, and Personhood

Music and Social Critique

Student Strikes
Reform and Its Mediation

Islamic Public Education?

Conclusion

7. CONCLUSION...317

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