Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies

Kristina Dohrn



Beyond Classrooms: Ethics and Education at Gülen-inspired Schools in Urban Tanzania


Institut für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie

WiSe 2015/16:

Kurs für Bachelor-Studierende "Zur Situation von geflüchteten Frau in Sammelunterkünften in Berlin"

Kurs für Master-Studierende "Religion in the Neoliberal Age"

SoSe 2015:

Kurs für Bachelor-Studierende "Transnational Muslim Networks"

SoSe 2014:

Kurs für Bachelor-Studierende "Methoden der Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie"

Kurs für Bachelor-Studierende "Religiös motivierte Schulen"

WiSe 2013/14:

Kurs für Master-Studierende "Religion, Migration und räumliche Mobilität"

Beyond Classrooms: Ethics and Education at Gülen-inspired Schools in Urban Tanzania

The Gülen Movement is one of the most dynamic religiously inspired movements today. Having its roots in the late 1960's in Turkey, today, the movement consists of people around the world, mostly of Turkish origin, who aim at putting into practice the teachings of Fethullah Gülen. Their engagement led to the emergence of a vast, but loose network of educational institutions, hospitals, NGOs, dialogue organizations, media, and economic organizations which are being established in increasingly global settings.

The activities of the Gülen Movement in Sub-Saharan Africa are reflecting this recent global outreach, having advanced to a crucial region for the educational and philanthropic activities of the Gülen movement. As in other regions of the world, the Gülen Movement is mainly showing presence in Sub-Saharan Africa through the establishment of educational institutions.

Education is a core topic in the discourse of Fethullah Gülen and consequently also for the movement at large. Indeed according to Gülen, education will permit to shape a new generation of people which will be able to use scientific knowledge according to 'moral values' and to lead society along the right path. However, the schools that are being established by the movement are no 'religious schools'. They follow the national curricula and are simultaneously oriented towards the teaching of ethics, mostly formulated in not explicitly religious terms.

This research project is designed as an ethnographic case study of the Feza Schools in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. My aim is to look at the ways in which the ethical ideals of the Gülen Movement are reflected in the everyday life in these schools: How are these ideals adapted, negotiated and/or contested in this specific local context? What impact do they have in relation to the subject formation of students, teachers and tutors? In which social, political, and economic contexts are the schools embedded? Which transnational routes are being established with regard to the flow of ideas, resources and people? And what is the discursive background for the educational engagement of the Gülen Movement in Tanzania?

The study will be based on ethnographic fieldwork in the Feza Schools in Dar es Salaam. Participant observation, interviews and conversations in formal and informal settings are conducted to get involved with and understand the perspectives of the teachers, financial supporters, the students and their parents in relation to the everyday life in and beyond these schools. The discussion and analysis of the ethnographic data is carried out in reference to anthropological theories about (religious) schooling, subject formation and translocality.

Erstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger

Zweitgutachterin: Prof. Dr. Manja Stephan-Emmrich