In March, Stanford University Press released “Coercive Concern: Nationalism, Liberalism, and the Schooling of Muslim Youth,” by Reva Jaffe-Walter (Montclair State University). The publisher’s description follows:
Many liberal-minded Western democracies pride themselves on their commitments to egalitarianism, the fair treatment of immigrants, and the right to education. These environments would seem to provide a best-case scenario for the reception of immigrant youth. But that is not always the case. Coercive Concern explores how stereotypes of Muslim immigrants in Western liberal societies flow through public schools into everyday interactions, informing how Muslim youth are perceived by teachers and peers. Beyond simply identifying the presence of racialized speech in schools, this book uncovers how coercive assimilation is cloaked in benevolent narratives of care and concern.
Coercive Concern provides an ethnographic critique of the “concern” that animates integration policy in Danish schools. Reva Jaffe-Walter focuses on the experiences of Muslim youth at a public school where over 40% of the student body is of immigrant descent, showing how schools operate as sites of governance. These efforts are led by political leaders who promote national fears of immigrant take-over, by teachers in schools, and by everyday citizens who are concerned about “problems” of immigration. Jaffe-Walter exposes the psychic and material costs immigrant youth endure when living in the shadow of social scrutiny, but she also charts a path forward by uncovering the resources these youth need to attain social mobility and success.
In December, Edward Elgar Publishing will release “Constitutionalism and Religion” by Francois Venter (North-West University, South Africa). The publisher’s description follows:
This topical book examines how the goals of constitutionalism – good and fair government – are addressed at a time when the multi-religious composition of countries’ populations has never before been so pronounced. How should governments, courts and officials deal with this diversity? The widely accepted principle of treating others as you wish them to treat you and the universal recognition of human dignity speak against preferential treatment of any religion. Faced with severe challenges, this leads many authorities to seek refuge in secular neutrality. Set against the backdrop of globalized constitutionalism in a post-secular era, Francois Venter proposes engaged objectivity as an alternative to unachievable neutrality.
Bringing together the history of church and state, the emergence of contemporary constitutionalism, constitutional comparison and the realities of globalization, this book offers a fresh perspective on the direction in which solutions to difficulties brought about by religious pluralism might be sought. Its wide-ranging comparative analyses and perspectives based on materials published in various languages provide a clear exposition of the range of religious issues with which the contemporary state is increasingly being confronted.
This month, Syracuse University Press published Mirror for the Muslim Prince: Islam and the Theory of Statecraft edited by Mehrzad Boroujerdi (Syracuse University). The publisher’s description follows.
In this volume, a group of distinguished scholars reinterpret concepts and canons of Islamic thought in Arab, Persian, South Asian, and Turkish traditions. They demonstrate that there is no unitary “Islamic” position on important issues of statecraft and governance. They recognize that Islam is a discursive site marked by silences, agreements, and animated controversies. Rigorous debates and profound disagreements among Muslim theologians, philosophers, and literati have taken place over such questions as: What is an Islamic state? Was the state ever viewed as an independent political institution in the Islamic tradition of political thought? Is it possible that a religion that places an inordinate emphasis upon the importance of good deeds does not indeed have a vigorous notion of “public interest” or a systematic theory of government? Does Islam provide an edifice, a common idiom, and an ideological mooring for premodern and modern Muslim rulers alike? The nuanced reading of the Islamic traditions provided in this book will help future generations of Muslims contemplate a more humane style of statecraft.