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What is Reasonable to Demand? Islam in Swedish Textbooks

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Several textbooks on religion and the philosophy of life are available to teachers in upper-secondary schools in Sweden, and teachers are free to choose which book(s) they want to use. This critical survey discusses seven textbooks in current use in schools in Malmö (the third city of Sweden). The sections on Islam have been read and critically reviewed, and some critical arguments not mentioned in previous research are developed. Among other things, the survey found that textbooks tend to lack an understanding of power practices, making it impossible for the reader to understand whose interpretation of Islam is given, or how widespread the following of that particular interpretation is, for example. Furthermore, Islam is frequently ‘othered', both in the well-discussed fashion of Orientalism and also through the use of Islamist interpretation as representative of Islam. After discussion of various other aspects, the article finally problematises the use of these textbooks in Malmö, a city with upwards of 40,000 Muslims (approximately 15 per cent of the total population).
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Keywords: Discourse; Islam; Representation; Sweden; Textbooks

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-07-01

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