Harvard Educational Review
  1. Winter 2013 Issue »

    “Who would they talk about if we weren’t here?”

    Muslim Youth, Liberal Schooling, and the Politics of Concern

    Reva Jaffe-Walter
    With the growing number of immigrant youth moving into new communities and host nations across the globe (Suarez-Orozco, 2007), it is critical that we deepen our understanding of the ways in which schools enable either the civic engagement or the social marginalization of these young people. In this article Reva Jaffe-Walter pre­sents the results of an ethnographic case study of Muslim students and their teachers in a Danish secondary school. Her findings reveal how liberal educational discourses and desires to offer Muslim immigrant students a better life can slide into processes of everyday exclusion in schools. Jaffe-Walter theorizes that immigrants in liberal democracies face technologies of concern—that is, policies and practices that champion the goals of fostering the engagement and social incorporation of immigrant students while simultaneously producing notions of these youth as Other, justifying practices of coercive assimilation (Foucault, 1977; Ong, 1996). She argues that beyond just producing negative representations, technologies of concern position youth within hierarchical schemes of racial and cultural difference that complicate their access to educational resources in schools (Abu El-Haj, 2010; Ong, 1996). This article has implications for the education and social integration of Muslim immigrants within liberal societies, as it reveals the troubling persistence of exclusion buried within practices of concern.

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    Reva Jaffe-Walter is a research associate at the Department of Educational Policy at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she is working with Stacey J. Lee on a study funded by the Spencer Foundation of how immigrant students negotiate the transition from high school to college. Her research, which has focused on immigration and schooling, the anthropology of policy, and urban education reform, has appeared in journals such as the Teachers College Record and Anthropology and Education Quarterly. Her dissertation focusing on nationalism and the education of Muslim youth in a Danish folkeskole was awarded the 2011 Outstanding Dissertation in Anthropology and Education from the Council on Anthropology and Education. Prior to her work as a researcher, Jaffe-Walter taught humanities at Manhattan International High School, a public high school serving recently arrived immigrant youth.
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    Winter 2013 Issue


    Educational Gerrymandering?
    Race and Attendance Boundaries in a Demographically Changing Suburb
    Genevieve Siegel-Hawley
    Pathways to College for Young Black Scholars
    A Community Cultural Wealth Perspective
    Uma M. Jayakumar, Rican Vue, Walter R. Allen
    “Who would they talk about if we weren’t here?”
    Muslim Youth, Liberal Schooling, and the Politics of Concern
    Reva Jaffe-Walter
    Thinking Otherwise About the Arts in Education—A Rejoinder
    Rubén A. Gaztambide-Fernández

    Book Notes