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Accepted paper:

Creating Female Space within Masculine Hegemonies. A Relational Perspective


Britta Frede (Universität Bayreuth)

Paper long abstract:

Learning in Muslim communities play an important role. Achieving Islamic knowledge is perceived as a duty for pious Muslims, no matter if the believer is male or female. This paper looks exclusively at female traditional scholars in contemporary Nouakchott. Traditional Islamic education is coexisting with modernized and secular education in Mauritania. The institution for traditional education is called maḥḍara and comprises various settings of Islamic knowledge tradition that can be described as learning circles. Meaning that a teacher gathers a group of students and transmits certain texts dealing with a specific discipline of Islamic knowledge, be it grammar, recitation, Sufism, jurisprudence, or early Islamic history just to name some of the possible content. The majority of these institutions aim at educating the younger generation and male students are more numerous than female. However, during last decades we witness an increasing demand of adults for studying these classical texts, among them are women. When we have a look at representations of this traditional institution, we miss the female aspect. Nevertheless, female contributions to traditional education in Mauritania can be traced back to the 18th century. The neglect in history of their contributions has been discussed elsewhere and such neglect has continued to today's underrepresentation of the female participation in this institution in various media. This paper aims at analysing the role of female scholars within the system through a relational perspective and draws on how female space is defined and creating within such a masculine hegemony.

panel D26
Multiplicity of learning events: the relationality of learning in Africa and beyond