Shifting Language Loyalties: A Case Study of Sunni Mauritian Muslims

Type Journal Article - Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs
Title Shifting Language Loyalties: A Case Study of Sunni Mauritian Muslims
Volume 36
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Page numbers 106-124
Muslims form a heterogeneous minority group in multi-religious, multi-ethnic and
multilingual Mauritius. Recognised by the Mauritian state as the main mosque
on the island, the Jummah Mosque, which adheres to the Sunni school of
thought, has contributed to preserve Urdu as a Muslim language by using this
language for preaching. This study focuses on the relationship between institutional
and popular language ideologies and loyalties, by investigating the language ideologies
and loyalties of the institution that oversees local Sunni madrassahs, the
Sunnee Madrassah Board (SMB), and those of a group of Sunni Mauritian
Muslims (MMs). The findings reveal heterogeneous language ideologies and loyalties:
the SMB has retained a degree of conservativism with respect to Urdu as a MM
language, while the Sunni informants are slowly shifting away from Urdu as a MM
language. This apparent mismatch between institutional ideologies and popular
ideologies and loyalties is discussed with reference to Heller’s concept of “symbolic
domination”. The authors argue that the conservative stance taken by the institutions
might be read as a subtle power game being played out between different
local ethno-religious groups, as well as within the MM community

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