Coercive Concern: Nationalism, Liberalism, and the Schooling of Muslim Youth

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Coercive Concern: Nationalism, Liberalism, and the Schooling of Muslim Youth | Foreign Affairs

As Holger expresses in the epigraph to this chapter, " Their religion has attacked our system"; their footprint is in "our" culture and society. Holger wistfully looks to the past, the '50s, as a time when life was simpler, before the arrival of Muslim guest workers and their families. His tone and facial expression as he talks with me reveal he is upset about immigrant challenges to "the one way to consider the world and how life should be lived.

One can no longer assume that citizens share a time-honored set of values and norms.

Anthropologist

Such conceptions of shared values are socially constructed and produced Anderson ; Gellner ; they are felt and experienced in the hearts of citizens. Before moving more deeply into the roots of this "disruption" I examine how conceptions of the nation are imagined and produced within the minds and hearts of individuals like Holger and within political discourse and policy.

While the discourses on nationalism and immigration in European countries are remarkably similar in recent days, with an emphasis on border control and preserving the distinctive aspects of national cultures Sassen ; Chavez , European nations have each had their own unique ways of defining their criteria for admission into the nation. For example, historically, German conceptions of the nation were based on the principle of jus sanguinis, or a nation that is formed by those with common blood.


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This translated into citizenship laws that allowed Germans residing abroad in the early twentieth century to maintain their German citizenship while it excluded Turkish guest workers who were born in Germany from being considered citizens. Even though the German economy required immigrant labor to fuel its industrial growth, it did not conceive of itself as an immigration nation and made it very difficult for migrants to acquire German citizenship.

Thus the nation is constructed in terms of ethnos — a shared biological connection stemming from the past and a reference point for the nation's existence and coherence — rather than demos, the peoples of a nation-state. France has taken an alternative approach, with membership in the nation defined in terms of shared universal political values rather than blood or descent. The French Republic was founded on the ideals of equality, secularism, and unity — a country where all citizens are equal regardless of their racial, ethnic, and religious backgrounds and where all are united around a common history, language, and culture Pelvey The French model reflects a confidence in the power of French schools, government, and the military to assimilate all members of society into this common culture.

While Germany sought to clearly define immigrants who resided in the nation as semi-permanent guests, France conceived of itself as an immigration nation based on the ideal of demos and encouraged immigration with the ideal of "let them come and make them all French" Sassen In comparison to European countries, the United States has been touted as more inclusive, as a nation of immigrants.

Liberalism and progressivism within Islam

However, historical analysis reveals that the United States has deployed exclusionary practices to maintain a white national imaginary. At the same time that the colonial image of the melting pot represented American racial blending and harmony, the government declared Chinese laborers in the U. West "aliens ineligible for citizenship," continued to dispossess Native Americans, and colonized Mexicans in annexed territories. Critical race scholar Eduardo Bonilla-Silva explains: "The idea of the melting pot has a long history in the American tradition, but it really was a notion that was extended exclusively to white immigrants.

That pot never included people of color: Blacks, Chinese, Puerto Ricans They could be used as wood to produce the fire for the pot, but they could not be used as material to be melted into the pot" Adelman Thus, while U. Interrogating the distinction between ethnic and civic nationalisms to explore the myths and assumptions that underlie each provides a useful foundation for further understanding the assimilative nature of Western citizenship and education.

Michael Ignatieff sets out the distinction:.

Coercive Concern

Civic nationalism [or demos ], maintains that the nation should be composed of all those — regardless of race, color, creed, gender, language, or ethnicity — who subscribe to the nation's political creed. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Volume , Issue 4 December Pages Related Information.

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Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Jaffe-Walter argues that in the context of increased migration and globalization, Muslim youth are subjected to processes of racialization and assimilationist "concern," especially in Western liberal democracies. The anthropology of policy provides a lens for considering how policies create "figured worlds" of meaning; that is how policies inform ideas about the kinds of identities public schools should foster and the role of teachers in encouraging the development of those identities.

Further, this lens allows the author to consider how policies produce stereotyped notions of Muslim identities taken up by various actors in schools through what she refers to as processes of "figuring" identities. This chapter includes a discussion of the author's positionality, the research site, the ethnographic methods used, and the book's larger contribution.


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  • Through a discussion of ethnic and civic nationalisms, the author points to the contradictions of liberal nationalisms that claim to promote a view of the nation as inclusive and tolerant yet, center on preserving particular ways of being. Jaffe-Walter considers how the production of "the nation" and "the people" within Europe and the United States has developed in opposition to notions of ethnicized "others.

    The author explores questions such as: What are the ways that government strategies for policing immigrant communities become accepted by the public as necessary and warranted? How do policies exert disciplinary power to cultivate ideal liberal subjects and "empower" immigrants to liberalize themselves?


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    How are the reforms, technologies, and ways of seeing produced through policies reproduced by actors in various sites and institutions? More specifically Jaffe-Walter considers how integration policies call for the coercive assimilation of Muslim women in the name of preventing discrimination and promoting gender equality while obscuring the structural factors that complicate their participation in the labor market.