I am a lecturer in education and international development at the School of International Development, University of East Anglia. I completed my doctorate at the University of Oxford, and have held postdoctoral positions at the Université libre de Bruxelles and the University of Antwerp. My research seeks to shed light on the diversity and dynamism of Islamic schooling practices in contexts of social change.
My doctoral thesis, which forms the basis of my recent book ‘Qur’anic Schools in Northern Nigeria: everyday experiences of youth, faith, and poverty’ (CUP / International African Library), offers an ethnographic and participatory study with young Qur’anic school students in Kano. Debunking stereotypes about Qur’anic schools as recruitment grounds for Boko Haram and other violent groups, I explore through the eyes of the students what it means to be young, poor, and Muslim in a context of pervasive inequality. As part of my work in Nigeria, I produced the ‘participatory’ docudrama ‘Duniya Juyi Juyi – How life goes’, which shows Qur’anic school students’ own perspectives on their education (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-SDeFX5rfI).
My current work includes Muslim immigrant communities in the West and their relationships with their homelands. Connecting diaspora and transnationalism studies with the study of change within religious schooling practices in Muslim societies, I explore the involvement of Senegalese migrants within the religious education sector of Senegal. I have conducted extensive fieldwork both in Senegal and with West African migrant communities in the US. Specifically, my research traces how sojourns in Senegal undertaken for the purpose of religious education shape migrants’ children’s relationships with their homeland and with Islam, how ‘diaspora’ influences alter Muslim schooling practices in Senegal, and how homeland stays and visits prepare young people for the challenges of living in the US as part of a triple minority as blacks, immigrants, and Muslims.