Hannah Hoechner’s research seeks to shed light on the diversity and dynamism of Islamic schooling practices in contexts of ongoing social change. Her doctoral thesis, which she completed at the Oxford Department of International Development, offers an anthropological and participatory study with young Islamic school students. During more than 13 months of ethnographic and participatory research, she investigated the ‘traditional’ Qur’anic educational system in Kano State, northern Nigeria. Bringing together scholarship on the anthropology and sociology of education, youth studies and poverty research, her thesis highlights how current ‘development’ endeavours, including repeated attempts to universalise basic education, have given rise to new experiences of exclusion for those whom these efforts have left out.
Her current work includes Muslim immigrant communities in the West and their relationships with their homelands. Connecting diaspora and transnationalism studies with the study of change within religious schooling practices in Muslim societies, she explores the involvement of the diaspora within Senegal’s religious education sector. More specifically, she traces how sojourns in the homeland undertaken for the purpose of religious education shape migrants’ children’s relationships with their homeland and with Islam, and how diaspora influences alter Muslim schooling practices in Senegal.