Fracturing the Nation: Muslim Youth Accounts of Belonging in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Senegal

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 12:30
Location: Hörsaal 32 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Mairead DUNNE, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Barbara CROSSOUARD, Centre for International Education, University of Sussex, United Kingdom
Naureen DURRANI, Centre for International Education, United Kingdom
Drawing on recent empirical data, this paper explores how youth construct their identities in three contrasting post-colonial, predominantly Muslim nation-states.  Our focus on Nigeria, Pakistan and Senegal recognises their different colonial histories, their struggles for independence and their contemporary geopolitical positioning. In a global context of heightened concern about youth, the youth bulge and religion, we analyse the heterogeneous ways that national and local cultures, societies and their education systems represent and produce forms of local and global citizenship. We focus on how youth appropriate multiple discourses of nation, religion, gender and ethnicity as significant axes of differentiation recruited in the construction of their own identities and those of ‘others’. This analysis is informed by post-colonial, post-structural and feminist theorisations that recognise the discursive construction of identities and the constitutive force of difference in these productions.

The research processes involved female and male focus groups conducted with Muslim youth in higher education in each country case, with the support of local youth researchers. The focus groups aimed to provoke discussion of youth’s affiliations with respect to nation, religion, gender and ethnicity. In this paper we discuss how youth’s discursive constructions of identity and national belonging in all three contexts were interwoven with religion in ways that were consistently gender inflected. The analysis further traces how these discourses of belonging constructed both socio-cultural allies and ‘others’ within and beyond regional and national boundaries in ways that worked  to fracture rather than to produce a shared national imaginary.