Youth and Yoga in Luma.

Hillewaert’s book explores the changing values in Lamu such as the transition from women staying inside the house to the current situation where women contribute to economic development. Female youth do still face challenges due to “lingering ideologies about what respectability and honour and honesty entails” which leads to them struggling with how to balance contributing to the community and upholding the notion of respect. The book essentially looks at “how do you represent yourself as respectable and be a conscious Muslim who contributes to the development of your community?”

Young men in Lamu are also faced with the changing job structures and the responsibility of providing for their family. Hillewaert’s book examines “the everyday negotiations of norms and questions of morality.” A common theme that runs through the book is what it means to be a good Muslim.

Through her book, Hillewaert “wants to challenge stereotypes that people look to Africa with and at Islam, and talk about the challenges that young youth face in general.” She adds that “you can talk about the broader social processes, but where it means something is precisely in the face-to-face interactions.”

Hillewaert is currently teaching ANT335: Anthropology of Gender and History of Anthropological Thought, which is a graduate course at the St. George Campus. She has also previously taught ANT433: Anthropology of Islam at UTM. She will be on leave for the 2020 winter term as she will be travelling to Lamu for research. In the 2020 fall term, she will be teaching ANT102: Introduction to Sociocultural and Linguistic Anthropology at UTM.

Through her writing and teaching, Hillewaert wants to provide her students with “the tools to think critically about everyday negotiations,” and “show that [what they learn] are things that impact their life as well.”

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