Challenging Notions of Education and Knowing: Islamic Practices of Teaching and Learning across Africa

Islamic teaching and learning continue to challenge global perceptions of education and knowing. This panel explores epistemic, practical, and organizational aspects of Islamic knowledge transmission with a special interest in their underlying (gendered) moralities and concepts of future.

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VAD Conference 2020 "Africa Challenges" - 22 to 25 September 2020

Throughout the past century, colonial administrations, national governments, and global institutions of ‘development’ have attempted to streamline and secularize African educational landscapes with the primary goal of enrolling as many (especially female) children and young adults in formal schools. Institutions of Islamic learning were for the most part seen as hindrance on this perceived singular path to modernity.

Despite a host of campaigns against (or for the ‘modernization’ of) Islamic teaching and learning, its classical tenets and practices are still highly relevant and its institutions are thriving. Some of them have retained their century-old ways of producing and transmitting knowledge, others have been merging Islamic learning with formal school curricula, providing both religious and secular learning. Islamic secondary, boarding and professional training schools across the continent meet the needs of contemporary national job markets in accordance with Islamic beliefs. Informal contexts of teaching and learning play an important role in continuously updating constructions of Islamicity. Therefore, Islamic educational practices in Africa challenge unilinear notions of modernity, ‘development’, and futurity.

This panel invites conceptual and empiric contributions on Islamic teaching and learning practices from multidisciplinary perspectives: What are their epistemic grounds? Which conceptions of knowledge transmission do they reflect? What kind of future(s) and (gendered) moralities to they produce? How do they relate to the overall educational landscapes they are located in? In which ways is Islamic teaching and learning organized, governed, and contested? How is the rise in Muslim female authority reflected in education and what are its implications?


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Anna Madeleine Ayeh (University of Bayreuth/Cluster of Excellence ‘Africa Multiple’)

anna-madeleine.ayeh[ at ]