Muslim Child as Teacher: Vernacular Knowledges of the Religious Quotidian

Year: 2019

Author: Hickey-Moody, Anna

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper explores the work of Muslim children as part of the ‘Interfaith Childhoods’ trans-national, multi-faith research project. The mixed methods used in the study include collaborative art making between children, which often involves Muslim children working together, and / or working with children from other religions, or secular worldviews, to develop visual representations of their world and images of what they want the future to look like. In the process of this encouraged collaboration, children also create visual depictions of “what really matters” to them through drawing, painting, collaging and a range of three-dimensional practices such as papier-mache and tent cities. This paper reads the art works of Muslim children who are central to this project as vernacular pedagogies of religion and identity. Working with, and building on these visual pedagogies, I explore the idea of the Muslim child as teacher, with a view to demonstrating the value of everyday, vernacular knowledges of religion as a framework through which secular culture may have insight into the emotional attachments and experiences of subjectivity that constitute the lived experiences of Muslim children in Australia and the U.K. Deleuze and Guattari famously talk about ‘royal science’ (1987: 525) as ‘the art of governing people’ (1987: 525). In co-existence with such dominant discourses they also discuss ‘nomad science’ which ‘continually cuts the content of royal science loose’ (1987: 405). In examining Muslim children’s artworks about values and identity as vernacular knowledges of the religious quotidian, I suggest they can be seen as acts of nomad science that often deterritorialize dominant discourses about religion and offer affectively curious and open modes of engagement with Muslim culture for the secular children in my research.