Date Thesis Awarded
Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only
Bachelors of Arts (BA)
J. D. La Fleur
Melvin Patrick Ely
Hundreds of thousands of young boys known as talibés roam the streets of Senegal's cities begging for food and change. They are students of the Quran sent from rural to urban communities to learn from a marabout, or spiritual guide. In exchange for their education, the students are asked to beg for several hours a day. Journalists and nonprofit workers often portray the forced begging phenomenon in an ahistorical manner, depicting the marabouts as evildoers without examining the origins of the problem. It was the rural exodus of the 1960s and '70s that forced the marabouts to adapt the traditional Quranic education system to a new environment, and thus institute begging. Political officials and spiritual leaders renegotiated their use of space and their notions of secularism, though the government has been ineffective in curbing the problem under all three of Senegal's presidents. The forced begging problem continues to grow, and marabouts, NGO workers, and government officials must work together to address the issues of space and secularism that underlie this complex religious and cultural issue.
Ayers, Hannah Brown, "Space, Secularism, and the Expansion of Forced Child Begging in Senegal, 1850-2008" (2008). Undergraduate Honors Theses. William & Mary. Paper 840.
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