Excellence in Scholarship and Learning


Intercultural Education

Ethnographic and Religious Approaches

Author Text to Follow

This book has been written for teachers, teacher trainers and their students, and others working with children and young people. It provides a valuable resource for those engaged in religious studies and South Asian studies, comprising a rich library of data relevant to current debates in these fields.

Drawing on field studies of children of South Asian and other backgrounds in Britain, Nesbitt argues the value to schools of teachers adopting an ethnographic approach in intercultural education. Examples from primary, secondary and higher education demonstrate the urgent need for teachers and others to be better informed of cultural diversity and to understand the interconnections between ethnographic studies, pastoral care, the curriculum, and international events.

Intercultural Education examines a wide variety of issues, including spirituality, identity formation, the ways in which ‘beliefs’ and ‘practices’ are represented, stereotyping communities, being a Christian at school, and the role of caste. The book contains Practical Guidelines for teachers, as well as a Glossary, covering pastoral care, racism, liaison with parents, recognizing the diversity of language, etc.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-033-0
Hardback Price: £25.00 / $45.00
Release Date: July 2004
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-034-7
Paperback Price: £17.95 / $32.50
Release Date: July 2004
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


A Note on Transliteration

Introduction: Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Education

1 Birthdays – A Spectrum of Difference

2 Young Hindus and Vegetarianism

3 The Diversity of Experience within a Faith Tradition

4 Festivals – Schools’ Involvement in ‘Tradition’

5 Belief and Practice – God and Holy Water

6 Tradition and Choice – What Young Hindus Believe

7 Caste, Hindus and Sikhs

8 British, Asian and Hindu – Multiple Identities

9 Spirituality and Religious Experience

10 Ethnography as Reflective Practice

Appendix: Practical Guidelines for Teachers – Cultural Diversity and the School


The great value of this book is its insistence that diversity, syncretism and the lived reality of religion should be taken into account in religious education teaching, and that it is important to hear the voices of children and young people alongside the discussions of orthodox religious ideals. It is an immensely enriching book, drawing as it does on Eleanor Nesbitt’s 25 years of ethnographic research on religious practice and belief. It is hard to think of anyone working in teaching or teacher training who would not find reading it an enlightening and enjoyable experience.
Dr Sarah Smalley, General Adviser for Religious Education and SACRE, Cambridgeshire LEA, writing in the British Journal of Religious Education

Eleanor Nesbitt succeeds in vividly bringing to life the traditional plurality (ethnic, cultural and linguistic, etc.) of different communities of faith, and the modern plurality related to the intellectual climate of late modernity or post modernity. She also makes absolutely explicit the gap between the rhetoric and reality of religions, and the urgent need for a religious and cultural literacy that takes us beyond, on the one hand, multiculturalism and, on the other, antiracism. She offers a set of educational ideals which are inspiring. At a time when religion is often deeply politicised and the integrity of scholars challenged as never before this book on intercultural education is timely, accessible and immensely rewarding.
Anna King, Journal of Punjab Studies

This is a treasury of keenly observed signals of meanings that matter to children and young people, and which therefore need to matter and be understood by their teachers and wider community. It draws on a quarter of a century’s field work by the author, well matched with the relevant scholarship of others. Its warning against misleading generalisation is made in the best possible way: vivid illustration of deeper significance. This book is an invaluable resource for teacher education and community relations generally, as well as for those with a particular concern for RE and Citizenship.
Brian Gates, Professor of Religious and Moral Education, St Martin’s College, Lancaster

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