Caitlyn Bolton

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

New York, Graduate Center, City U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9486

Approve Date

April 27, 2017

Project Title

Bolton, Caitlyn, City U. of New York, Graduate Center, New York, NY - To aid research on 'The Spirit of Progress: Islamic Education, Development, and Modernity in Zanzibar,' supervised by Dr. Mandana Limbert

CAITLYN BOLTON, then a graduate student at City University of New York, Graduate Center, New York, New York, was awarded funding in April 2017 to aid research on ‘The Spirit of Progress: Islamic Education, Development, and Modernity in Zanzibar,’ supervised by Dr. Mandana Limbert. Perched on the edges of Africa and the Indian Ocean, the islands of Zanzibar have long been at both the center and margins of multiple empires and geographies. As a hub of transoceanic commerce and regional cultural production, it was a key site for British colonial improvement projects and later, Euro-American development programs. Such projects, from educational to agricultural reform, struggled here as elsewhere to relate meaningfully to indigenous knowledge and value systems, particularly on the role of religion in modern society. Yet, as the nineteenth century capital of the Omani sultanate, Zanzibar was also a site for the imperial ambitions of the Arab Islamic world, and now increasingly a destination for international Islamic development organizations from across the Indian Ocean. Such organizations seek to enact a vision of social change that is vitally structured by Islamic religious narratives’yet inevitably also informed by local and Euro-American epistemologies and practices. Drawing upon archival and ethnographic research in Zanzibar and the Gulf, this project analyzes approaches to development by international Islamic organizations working in education in Zanzibar, examining the role of religion and the conceptions of social change that emerge at this nexus of multiple global communities and systems of meaning.