November 6th, 2009 | For more on this event, please visit: bit.ly/aKxuK9
Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs | Georgetown University
The power to interpret religious knowledge and define the terms of religious propriety is contested in many countries throughout the Muslim world today. Yet beyond analysis of curricular content, very little scholarly attention has been focused on the role of schools in such contests. This paper addresses struggles surrounding moral authority through an ethnographic exploration of religious teaching and practice in a girl’s secondary school in Jordan. It examines both the formal or official religious curriculum, as well as the unofficial religious educational efforts underway in school. It also gives a glimpse of the daily struggles between text, teacher and students to define proper Islamic mores for women in Jordan today. Outside the formal and intended curriculum there are a myriad of ways and spaces – in the classroom, in the prayer room, in the school yard, in the teachers’ room – within which actors in school are engaged in efforts to teach each other about religion, religious practices and living as pious Muslim women. Competing visions of Islamic orthodoxy come to the fore in schools in unique ways and schools provide a space and new tools for negotiating the ensuing tensions. Young women and their female teachers are active agents in these processes.
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