Questioning French Secularism: Gender Politics and Islam in a Parisian Suburb

Hardcover | February 15, 2012

byJennifer A. Selby

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Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, this book examines how contemporary secularism in France is positioned as a guarantor of Muslim women's rights. Selby analyzes public discourses on secularism in France to consider how Islam becomes subsumed under the fetishized headscarf, how women's bodies come to represent collective identities, and how the activism and engagement of suburban Muslim women with secular politics is ignored.

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Based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, this book examines how contemporary secularism in France is positioned as a guarantor of Muslim women's rights. Selby analyzes public discourses on secularism in France to consider how Islam becomes subsumed under the fetishized headscarf, how women's bodies come to represent collective identi...

Jennifer A. Selbyis an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Memorial University, Canada. She studies Islam in the West, with a primary focus on secularism and gender politics in contemporary France and Canada.

other books by Jennifer A. Selby

Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 10.25 × 5.64 × 0.78 inPublished:February 15, 2012Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230121012

ISBN - 13:9780230121010

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Table of Contents

I. SETTING THE SCENE: PLACE AND METHOD * Gender Politics and Religion in Contemporary France * Fieldwork Context: Working and Living in Petit Nanterre * Methodological Considerations: On Writing about Muslim Women * II. "HARDLY PARADISE": FROM SHANTYTOWN TO HOUSING PROJECT* Migration to the Banlieues of Paris * Religious Geography * Gender Politics and Sexual Segregation* Divisions * Community-Based Organizations * 2005 Suburban Riots * III. THE SHIFTING BOUNDARIES OF LAICITE* Secularism: General Remarks * Secularism: The French Case * Commissioned Secularism in Contemporary France * Secularism: The Pork Affair in Petit Nanterre * IV. FEMINISM, FEMININITY, AND LAICITE* Femmes Solidaires ("Women in Solidarity") * French Femininity: Stereotypes * Gossip * V. MARRIAGE-PARTNER PREFERENCE AND MIGRATION TO PETIT NANTERRE * Journeys to Petit Nanterre * Implications for ‘Disfavored’ Women * Second-Generation Women Respond * Implications * VI. ON BEING A VISIBLY RELIGIOUS WOMAN IN FRANCE * Continued French Colonialism? * Feminist Critiques and Practicing Religious Women * General Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

"Combining rich ethnographic description and incisive theoretical analysis, Questioning French Secularismtakes on some of the most provocative issues of our time: religiosity, immigration, Islam in the West, and gender politics. In her forceful yet nuanced account, Selby reveals why the French model for secularism poses Muslim women's agency as a core challenge to the state and how this model fails to understand first-generation migrant women's political and religious practices. This engaging and highly readable book appeals to ethnography to answer the big theoretical and political questions of our time - a must-read for scholars and students pursuing research on religion, gender, migration, and nationalism." -Chantal Tetreault, assistant professor of Anthropology, Michigan State University