Abstract for 2008 Honors Colloquium

Hannah Ayers


"Secular-Religious Relations and the Expansion of Child Begging in Senegal, 1960-today"

In Senegal's cities, thousands of young boys beg for alms in exchange for an Islamic education. Their teachers, who also serve as spiritual guides and community leaders, promote this system as a method of teaching humility. While leaders of Islamic reformist groups and nonprofit organizations have publicly criticized this system, government officials have done little to change it. My thesis explores the history of the mutually beneficial relationship between elected officials and spiritual leaders that has precipitated the government's inaction in stopping forced child begging since Senegal's independence in 1960.