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Accepted Paper:

Agency Beyond Subversion and Submission: Constructing the Pious and Educated Ethiopian Muslim Woman  
Yekatit Tsehayu (University of Florida)

Paper short abstract:

Focusing on University graduate Muslim women in Ethiopia this paper explores how participating in the Universities’ faith-based student associations equipped them to negotiate opportunities, boundaries, and expectations and form a Muslim woman identity that is pious, productive, and nurturing.

Paper long abstract:

The concurrence of political reformism and religious revivalism can describe Post-1991 Ethiopia. Muslim revivalism was facilitated by the political reform that championed diversity, religious freedom, and equal identity rights. The new political leadership also configured a human and economic development project emphasizing active involvement of the underprivileged including Muslim women. Thus, many female Muslim students joined public universities, establishing faith-based on campus associations that run Islamic teachings, piety training, and ideological discussions. Becoming aware of their faith, many students made a conscious pious turn expressed by adherence to personal and public piety. The programs and projects run by these associations also shaped the students' everyday live aspirations and modes of interaction, even after graduating. Ethiopia is the home of over eighty ethnic groups,however, its people are still influenced by the legacy of historic Ethiopia's monocultural tradition with one religion(Orthodox Christianity), one language (Amharic) supremacy. Therefore, besides gender inequality, Ethiopian Muslim women had to deal with the interlock of religious and cultural inequalities. Moreover, when they are educated, they need to deal with contemporary expectations: the state that attracted women to join the workforce and the Muslim revivalist teaching that emphasized Islamic gender norms and gender roles of women being good wives and good mothers. This paper explores how participating in the University Muslim associations equipped the women to use Islamic concepts to negotiate opportunities, boundaries, and expectations in their everyday public and private life aspirations and cultivate the Ethiopian Muslim woman identity that is pious, productive, and nurturing.

Panel Reli02
Training for good life or a good society? Religious students’ individual and collective aspirations in public universities in sub-Saharan Africa
  Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -