Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-9-2018

Major Department or Program



Chas McKhann


Throughout Senegal, West Africa, many young boys attend a type of Qur’anic school that requires them to beg on the streets for many hours each day. They do so under the direction of a marabout, a religious leader of Sufi mysticism, who is said to be teaching the children the value of humility and the importance of suffering for the sake of molding their moral character. International human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch have identified this practice as a violation of human rights and attempted to intervene through legislation. However, their mode of intervention, through reliance on Eurocentric legal thought and individualist concepts of human dignity, has the potential to act as a new form of colonialism. This opens up larger conversations about the relationships between human rights, human dignity, and cultural relativism.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Human Rights Watch (Organization)‚ Qurʼan -- Qurʼanic teaching‚ Sufism -- Religious aspects‚ Human rights‚ Cultural relativism‚ World politics‚ Non-governmental organizations‚ Colonies -- Africa‚ Dignity‚ Anthropology‚ Social sciences‚ Senegal‚ Whitman College 2018 -- Dissertation collection -- Anthropology Department

Permanent URL

Document Type

Whitman Community Accessible Thesis



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