Religious Literacy in the New Latino Diaspora: Combating the Othering of Muslim Refugee Students in NebraskaReportar como inadecuado

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Journal of Inquiry and Action in Education, v7 n1 p1-17 2016

Many communities across the United States have been undergoing recent demographic changes. Since the 1980s, low-skilled labor (e.g. meatpacking) has attracted Latino families to settle in communities that historically have been home to few, if any, Latinos (i.e. the New Latino Diaspora). In more recent years, these same job opportunities have also characterized these communities as prime locations for refugees from countries like Somalia and Sudan. As a result, schools in these settings are serving an even more diverse student population than they were twenty, ten, or even five years ago. Given that the contexts of the New Latino Diaspora (NLD) and refugee resettlement may differ substantially, schools that have made steps to traverse one demographic change (i.e., working with Latino students) cannot necessarily use the same methods to tackle the other (i.e., working with Muslim refugee populations). Beyond formal school planning, Muslim refugee youth in NLD communities are often targets of post-9/11 Islamophobia, while peers and teachers alike often lack the religious literacies needed to ensure these youths' school success. This paper draws on the case of one particular Nebraska community to shed light on how seemingly unrelated instantiations of demographic change (i.e., the NLD and refugee resettlement) produce a unique context to consider the need to develop religious literacy as a component of multicultural education in both teacher preparation and K-12 schooling environments. After considering emerging ethnographic data from a larger study, I provide action-oriented recommendations based on the scholarship concerning religious inclusivity.

Descriptors: Religion, Literacy, Immigrants, Hispanic Americans, Refugees, Manufacturing, Employment Opportunities, Student Diversity, Land Settlement, Muslims, Islam, Fear, Academic Achievement, Knowledge Base for Teaching, Cultural Pluralism, Ethnography, Teacher Education, Elementary Secondary Education, Christianity, Social Integration, Acculturation

Buffalo State College School of Education. 1300 Elmwood Avenue Bacon Hall 306, Buffalo, NY 14214. Tel: 716-878-4214; Fax: 716-878-5301; e-mail: schoolofeducation[at]; Web site:

Autor: Sierk, Jessica


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