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Pakistani children in Oslo: Islamic nurture in a secular context

By Sissel Østberg


The subject matter of this thesis - Islamic nurture of Pakistani children in Oslo - provides a new departure for studies of ethnic minorities in Norway. The study distinguishes itself from related research by focusing on Islam as part of general enculturisation and socialisation processes, with special regard to the social arenas of home, school and mosque. The main research questions of the thesis are: 1. How is religious and cultural tradition transmitted from parents and other 'significant others' to children among Pakistanis in Oslo? 2. What role does Islam have in the lives of children, with regard to meaning and social belonging?\ud The first research question contains two complex theoretical fields: a) The relationship between culture and religion seen both as aspects within Islam and in terms of the relationship between Islam and Pakistani cultural elements, and b) the transmission process, focusing on both formal educational elements and informal socialisation. Based on one year's field work, theories of Islamic nurture in a non-Islamic, secular late-modem society, especially related to the establishment, maintenance and negotiation of identity, have been generated.\ud The thesis contests the view that regards Islam or Pakistani or Norwegian culture as coherent static systems. It also contests views that regard children exclusively as objects or victims of external processes or pressure or present children of immigrant background or children belonging to religious minorities, as doomed to fall `between cultures'. Norwegian Pakistani children's cultural identity does not only change over time, but it is a contextual identity. The children develop what in this thesis is called integrated plural identities; i. e. they convey a broad cultural competence and a capability of cultural code switching without necessarily experiencing personal conflicts of values

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