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Shocking Stories of Suffering and Humanitarian Outcomes: Transnational Intervention into Qur’anic Student Begging in Senegal

by CWRU Science and Human Rights Coalition

Lecture Leadership Social Justice Human Rights Innovation Professional Development

Tue, 12 Feb 2019

5:30 PM – 6:30 PM

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Kenth Hale Smith Bldg Rm 146

2100 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

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Dr. Sara Thiam, visiting Assistant Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, will present on her work examining the relationship between human rights condemnation and humanitarian efforts to improve the lives of impoverished children in Senegal.

Through shocking visual and textual displays of child suffering, transnational human rights activists denounce the phenomenon of Qur’anic student begging in the streets of Senegal, West Africa, as human trafficking and exploitation. Human Rights Watch claims that the tens of thousands of children begging in Senegal on a given day are amassed from rural families and transported to cities where their instructor-traffickers force them to beg for money. Local discourses support an alternate explanation of mass urban begging among Qur’anic students, locally called taalibes, which invokes traditional work-based models of religious instruction, and recent rural economic decline rooted in structural adjustment austerity and climate change. I engage with research in medical anthropology of global health and transnational governance, interdisciplinary studies of human rights, and anthropological studies of cross-cultural childhoods, to illustrate why the divergence between these discourses surrounding Qur’anic student begging has hindered humanitarian and human rights efforts to improve conditions for the taalibes over time.



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Kenth Hale Smith Bldg Rm 146

2100 Adelbert Rd, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

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CWRU Science and Human Rights Coalition | Website | View More Events

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