Examining the (im)mobility of African American Muslim TESOL teachers in Saudi Arabia | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2397-7140
  • E-ISSN: 2397-7159

Abstract

Abstract

Through the lens of raciolinguistics, this nascent study examines the mobility/immobility of two African American Muslim TESOL teachers (AAMTT) working in the Saudi Arabian higher education (HE) context. The data were collected through interviews and autobiographies in order to examine the participants' lived experiences and their stories. It also explores the paradoxes, tensions and duplicities in treatment experienced by these two TESOL teachers while teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in Saudi Arabia. These teachers moved to the Gulf region with diverse forms of cultural, symbolic, linguistic, economic and social capital, including being 'native speakers' with excellent command of the English language, identifying (and being identified) with the culture of hip hop and Hollywood (which is replete with famous African Americans), and representing American ideals of individualism, freedom of expression, open mindedness and upward mobility. Conversely, navigating through Saudi Arabia, these AAMTT have also experienced marginalization by consistent questioning of their national origins, failure to secure employment or being flatly rejected due to colour, and scepticism by students and administrators about the level of linguistic competence, accent, rhetoric and accuracy in delivering English lessons. Likewise, subscribers to the Islamic faith, their lofty expectations of what life would be like in the Gulf have been further complicated by experiences of direct and indirect racism (a direct contradiction of Islamic teachings of universal inclusion), and they have also striven to learn the Arabic language to gain religious and social capital while simultaneously fending off perceptions that Arabic speakers cannot be 'native speakers' of English. Therapeutically, the researcher reflects on his own experiences with transnationalism as well as the experiences of these two TESOL teachers and their struggles with constantly re-conceptualizing identity and self as new challenges present themselves in the Saudi Arabia. The paradox of possessing the cultural tools for mobility while also having features that hinder mobility is explored and the researcher discusses the strategies ultimately adopted and employed to navigate living in the Gulf.

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2019-10-01
2024-02-25
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