Unsafe Gods

Security, secularism and schooling

Paperback / softback, 258 pages, 234 mm x 156 mm
15 Jan 2014
Trentham Books

Price: £23.99

Loading Updating cart...
This book makes the compelling argument that religion can be complicit in conflict and that a new secularism is vital to foster security. Using insights from complexity science, it shows how dynamic secularism can be used to accommodate diverse faiths and beliefs within worldly politics.

Exploration of the interplay of religion and education in the context of security and notions of safe schools offers new understandings of how religions learn – or instead remain frozen accidents that hinder societies from adapting to change. The book shows how turbulence and amplification underscore the necessity for an education that is critical even of patriarchal religious texts and that recognizes the power of satire and humour.

Lynn Davies follows her groundbreaking work on education and extremism to draw on work in mentoring those at risk of radicalization and consider how the radicalized learn and unlearn their behaviours. She presents international examples to show how a foundation in secular rights and freedoms can enable young people to develop the skills and networks to create change without turning to violence.

  • Lynn Davies

    Lynn Davies is Emeritus Professor of International Education in the Centre for International Education and Research of the School of Education at the University of Birmingham. Her central interests are in the fields of education and conflict, education and extremism and education in fragile states. Interlocking interests are in children’s rights and the impact of student voice. Current research is on mentoring those at risk of radicalization.

CONTENTS: 1. Security and complexity; 2. Religion and security; 3. Dynamic secularism; 4. Secular education: Control, values and learning; 5. Secure schools and schools for security; 6. Learning and unlearning extremist behaviours; 7. Positive insecurity, turbulence and change; References; Index.

This is a time of immense tension in the world - over religion and secularism, over security and conflict, over what counts as legitimate knowledge and ways of understanding, and over education's role in dealing with all of this. Lynn Davies has written an important book that is filled with crucial theoretical insights and very real examples that can help us find our way in these troubled times. It gives us hope for a better future.

Professor Michael W. Apple, Educational Policy Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Ours is an age of deep uncertainty and concomitant hard certainties. This important book conveys the turbulence, bursts of hope, historical turns, and technical revolutions of our times, and suggests that only critical thinking and secularism can protect our young from dogma and disillusionment, and enable them to survive our increasingly complex, unpredictable world.

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, newspaper columnist

Equipped with an armada of cases (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Palestine-Israel, Kosovo, Angola and many more), Lynn Davies takes the reader on a near-dizzying postmodern/postcolonial journey in seven succinct and well-written chapters in which she searches for the nexus of conflict, security, religion, secularism and education. Finessing the term 'security', she gives it both a nuanced reading and complexity that allows the reader to understand core aspects of 'human security'. Professor Davies isolates a central dilemma - 'that schooling [which foments doubt and, therefore, unlearning or deradicalization] appears simultaneously irrelevant to the huge global questions... and yet central to the learning of alternative ways to conduct human relations' (p. 8). One by one, Davies topples the gods such as development and hybrid identities. She presents us with a fluid, chaotic and turbulent world where education is one of a vast array of possibilities (at the same time arguably the possibility) for finding alternative ways of being human. For my own work in Sudan, a place with all the ingredients of Davies's ethnographic universe - violence and conflict, radical religion (Islam), neoliberal development projects, militarization of society, major security issues at all levels and a school system that serves all of these - the work is invaluable: a tour de force. She has done much of my work for me!

Professor Emerita Sondra Hale, Anthropology and Gender Studies, UCLA