World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Culture and Education: Case Studies (464) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: FRI 23, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description:

Chair: Mohammad Mesbahi (Head of Education, The Islamic College, UK)

Paper presenter: Laura Mijares (Professor, Departamento Estudios Árabes e Islámicos, UCM, Spain), “Muslim schoolgirls in Spanish schools: rethinking processes of exclusión”.
This paper explores socialization processes a group of Muslim schoolgirls are undergoing at one Secondary school in Madrid (Spain). Considering school as the locus of reproduction, creation, contestation, and transformation of inclusion/exclusion processes, this paper shows how these Muslim girls are living and facing relegation and subordination practices related to perceived cultural adscriptions such as Arabic-speaking, Muslim and Moroccan among teachers and peers. These perceived cultural adscriptions are understood also as challenging homogeneity and neutrality of Spanish schools as well as the democratic values of Spanish society. This paper focuses on the ways in which these students subvert these representations precisely by showing their adscription and allegiance to a different origin, religion and language (‘being Muslim’ and ‘speaking Moroccan Arabic’). Some of the questions the paper addresses are the following: What kind of identities are being socialized in daily school practices? What kind of identities do these Muslim schoolgirls have to negotiate everyday in relation to teachers and peers? How these girls come to terms with ideologies of homogeneity and neutrality of the schools? Which is the role of Spanish as the dominant language in inclusion/exclusion processes in schools? Data have been collected as part of the research project? Multilingualism in schools: a critical sociolinguistic analysis of educational linguistic programs in the Madrid region?

Paper presenter: Vladislav Sobolev (Associate Professor, St Petersburg State University, School of International Relation, Russia), “Muslim Education in Russian Megapolises”
In the last 10-15 years the influx of migrants from traditionally Muslim regions of both Russia and former Soviet republics to big cities has dramatically increased. Muslim region residents come to cities, especially Moscow and Saint Petersburg, from all over the post Soviet space in search of job, high salaries and stability consequently. The motive not to be overlooked is the future of their children, whom inhabitants of South Muslim regions want to provide with proper education. Processes caused by Muslim migration to the big cities of Russian Federation can be to some extent compared to that going on in modern West Europe and USA. With the exception of the fact that migrants in Russia usually possess knowledge of quite fluent Russian and, generally, are aware of the Russian mode of living, educational opportunities and ways to find a job. Muslim migrants in Russian cities establish associations of fellow countrymen based on ethnic principle: Tajik association, Azerbaijan association, Uzbek association, Avar association, etc. Yet, an average Russian citizen, for different reasons, is often unable to differentiate a person of one nationality from a person of some other nationality. Native residents usually believe all those, who have facial features and accent of Russian South borders inhabitants, to be Muslims, who threaten, in public mentality, the existence of native culture. There exist various and complex reasons for xenophobia and problems of interethnic relations in modern Russian cities. This particular paper touches only one aspect of the wide range of contradictions - the religious one, i.e. the problems of religious education for Muslims and the government policy in this sphere. The paper aims at assessing the level of religiosity for the major ethnic communities of Muslim migrants in Russia; analyzing the functional role of established Muslim migrant organizations as well as of those that are being established; defining the part played by Islam in the process of bringing up children, the ways migrant children receive Muslim education in Russia, who delivers this education and what are the motives underlying. Besides private Muslim schools and higher educational facilities the Russian government have recently started the project of Muslim education under protection of State (Secular) high schools. Situation with comprehensive schools adds to the wide spectrum of problems due to the intention of Russian government to introduce 'Basics of Religious Culture' as a compulsory subject. In conclusion the assessment is given of the general condition of Muslim education in Russia and weather it contributes to overcome xenophobia and integrate migrants. The study uses a wide empirical base, papers and documents of Muslin institutions in Russia, personal experience of communication with Muslim migrants.