Religion and the Formation of an Urban Educational Market: Transnational Reform Processes and Social Inequalities in Christian and Muslim Schooling in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

In: Journal of Religion in Africa
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  • 1 Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin, Landoltweg 9-11, 14195 Berlin, Germany

Abstract

Over the last decade in Tanzania parents’ and students’ quest for a good school has been shaped by the growing presence of religiously motivated schools, especially in urban settings. This paper argues that the diverse social positioning and educational appeal of new Christian and Muslim schools in Dar es Salaam are intimately intertwined with the continued weakening of state education that has been taking place since the mid-1990s to early 2000s as the result of privatization and World Bank educational policies. It also shows that the growing stratification and commodification of the education sector is tightly knitted with histories of inequality and religious difference in colonial and postcolonial Tanzania, as well as with the establishment and diversification of ties between actors and institutions on the East African coast on the one hand, and with those in North America, Europe, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia on the other. Finally, this paper demonstrates how macroeconomic and macrohistorical forces have become condensed in processes of subject formation and the widely varying production of religious spaces in an urban educational market. I argue that the resulting reinscription of religion in the public sphere must be understood not so much as an unintended side-effect of transnational reform processes, but more as part and parcel of multilayered histories of schooling and Christian-Muslim encounters in Tanzania that have also shaped the recent repositioning of the country’s education sector in the global and transnational context.

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