Publication details

The Meaning of Adabu and Adhabu for the ‘Child Protection’ Discourse in Zanzibar. SOAS Journal of Postgraduate Research, Vol 9 (2016).

Author(s): Fay, Franziska
Year of publication: 2016

Abstract: This paper considers the relevance of the concepts of adabu (manners/discipline) and adhabu (punishment/chastisement) in the discourse concerning child protection in Zanzibar. It builds on data gained during 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Zanzibar Town between January 2014 to July 2015, which explored children's and teachers' ideas around personhood, protection and punishment in primary and Qur'anic schools partially involved in (inter)national 'Positive Discipline' (adabu mbadala) programmes. Recent efforts by international NGOs in cooperation with the Zanzibari government to forbid corporal punishment in schools are repeatedly rejected by students and teachers, as universalised child protection approaches fail to pay adequate attention to the socio-cultural and religious meanings of child disciplining practices. I argue that the notions of adabu and adhabu are central to understanding children's and teachers' attitudes towards seemingly protective interventions in Zanzibari schools. This article offers an exploration of the meanings, (mis)translations and uses of the concepts within the child protection discourse. By illustrating how these interventions may translate locally as an interference with children's journey towards full social personhood (utu), a call emerges for a re-evaluation of globalised protection programmes. Taking Zanzibari children's and adults' perceptions as a point of departure, this article suggests the need for child protection policies and practices that move beyond universalised ideas of well-being and towards more meaningful approaches of protecting children in their everyday environments.

Keywords: child protection, personhood, Zanzibar, discipline, punishment

Subject(s): ethnology

Full text:

Back to publications list


Ringvorlesung „Demokratie in der Krise? Bruch, Regression und Resilienz“

Unter der wissenschaftlichen Leitung von Prof. Dr. Martin Saar und PD Dr. Thomas Biebricher findet vom 24. April bis 17. Juli 2019 die Ringvorlesung „Demokratie in der Krise? Bruch, Regression und Resilienz“ statt. Mehr...

Aus aktuellem Anlass:

Weitere Informationen zur Konferenz "Das islamische Kopftuch – Symbol der Würde oder der Unterdrückung?" unter Leitung von Prof. Dr. Susanne Schröter am 8. Mai 2019. Hier...

Upcoming Events

23 May 2019, 8.15pm

Lecture & Film "Die Erfinderin der Formen. Das Kino von Chantal Akerman": Alisa Lebow (Sussex): Distanz rahmen: News from Home. More...

27 May 2019, 5.15pm

Lecture Series "Contemporary Approaches to Feminist Philosophy": Helen Longino: „Doing Epistemology as a Feminist“. More...


Latest Media

"Souveränität Europas" oder zurück zum Nationalstaat? Mögliche Szenarien für die Zukunft der Europäischen Union

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kadelbach
Intervention der Römerberggespräche "Last Exit nach dem Brexit – Ist Europa noch zu retten?"

Follow me quietly. Akermans Poetik von Raum und Bewegung in Hotel Monterey und La Chambre

Sonia Campanini
Lecture and Film "Die Erfinderin der Formen. Das Kino von Chantal Akerman"

New full-text Publications

Kettemann, Matthias; Kleinwächter, Wolfgang; Senges, Max (2018):

The Time is Right for Europe to Take the Lead in Global Internet Governance. Normative Orders Working Paper 02/2018. More...

Kettemann, Matthias (2019):

Die normative Ordnung der Cyber-Sicherheit: zum Potenzial von Cyber-Sicherheitsnormen. Normative Orders Working Paper 01/2019. More...