Rising Voices: Bedouin Youth Navigating Education and the Future amidst Protracted Conflict




Tolley, Terra Alysa

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Access to education is one of the foundational steps to improving agency and equality in a social system, and it is a prominent theme in the responses to conflict through peacebuilding, international development, and the conflict analysis and resolution field more broadly. Bedouin youth are the most academically marginalized and the lowest performing population within Israel. Ahed School, a Bedouin high school for science and technology in the Naqab, is an exception in that it is outperforming the majority of Israeli schools. This modified ethnographic case study draws on field interviews of students, educators, and a wide range of Bedouin community members, to analyze the role of education amidst protracted conflict. The argument is made that the very educational systems that can enhance agency for marginalized populations in a conflict setting may also lessen the saliency of Bedouin cultural and ethnic identity. Moreover, such schools might further the Israeli state agenda of Bedouin assimilation and acquiescence. The focus on Ahed School in a landscape of asymmetric conflict illuminates multilayered tensions, such as marginalization versus empowerment, alienation versus acceptance, and violent versus safe spaces for education, all of which may be relevant for understanding other, similar contexts. The analysis shows how the model of education promoted in the Ahed School both challenges and supports traditional notions of Bedouin culture, gender dynamics, and identity. Overall, the dissertation shows that educational systems provide a key site for addressing conflict.



Cultural anthropology, Middle Eastern studies, Social research, Bedouin, Conflict, Education, Negotiation