Muslim Youth Experiences in South Florida Communities
62nd Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society: Re-mapping Global Education, South North Dialogue, CIES 2018
Mexico City, Mexico
Department of Conflict Resolution Studies
2018-03-25 to 2018-03-29
Peace education scholars and practitioners continue to call for the centering of the voices and lived experiences of marginalized students (Bajaj, Ghaffar-Kucker and Desai, 2016). Situated in this urgent tradition, this presentation presents data from focus groups with young Muslim community members in S. Florida in the post-9/11 era. As a religious and ethnic minority group in South Florida, Muslim students would seem to be uniquely vulnerable in this time of rising xenophobia and Islamophobia. This particular study builds on the researcher’s prior work regarding the “school to terror pipeline” impacting France’s Muslim students (Duckworth 2016), and how teachers approach teaching about the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (Duckworth 2014).
The study’s key methodology is qualitative focus groups, as they are especially well suited to eliciting data on group processes and dynamics, shared narratives and individual narratives (Cooper and Finley, 2014). Our focus groups explore youth experiences within schools of course, but also within the community at large. Neither schools nor students exist in a vacuum. We consider some of the following questions. How do local Muslim youth (defined here as 13-18 or so) perceive their schools, communities and world? What challenges, if any, do they feel they face particular to their identity as young Muslims, especially given the narrative and structural violence of the recent 2016 US election? If they perceive themselves as well integrated and valued as community members, can we determine what school and community leaders may be doing well?
While situated within the broad, overall project of peace education to advance inclusion of marginalized and vulnerable students, the study also addresses the urgency of this particular moment in US history. For example, we know from local reporting and from the Southern Poverty Law Center that hate crimes against Muslim students (as well as black students, Jewish students and immigrants) have spiked (Sayre, 2017) and that FL ranks second in the US in activity of hate groups (Bordas, 2017). How do young Muslims in south FL explain and understand this? How do they cope?
Finally, the presentation will look to draw insights from the qualitative focus group data in terms of classroom peace building. What tools can peace education offer? What pedagogical strategies can we design to interrupt narrative violence and promote the inclusion and equality needed for a school and community culture of peace? I will develop observations and guidelines based on the data our focus groups elicit. The more clearly we understand these experiences and hear the voices of S. Florida’s Muslim students, the better peace educators will be able to respond.
Duckworth, Cheryl Lynn, "Muslim Youth Experiences in South Florida Communities" (2018). CAHSS Faculty Presentations, Proceedings, Lectures, and Symposia. 2513.