Islam and Contemporary Europe: “Impoliteness, or Politics Re-imagined: Rethinking Muslim Difference in France”



Mayanthi Fernando, University of California – Santa Cruz

Date and Time

January 26, 2012 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM January 23.


CISAC Conference Room

Workshop papers are available to Stanford affiliates upon request by email to

Abstract: This paper examines the contemporary Islamic revival in France, focusing on the emergence of a distinctive Muslim French identity and concomitant political imagination. Asserting their right to be piously and visibly Muslim in the public sphere, Muslim French revivalists reconfigure the relationship between Frenchness and Muslimness. In so doing, they imagine new ways of organizing the national polity, envisioning a novel relationship between minority ‘difference’ and citizenship that refuses to constrain Muslimness to the space of alterity.

Mayanthi Fernando is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California-Santa Cruz. She received her B.A. from Harvard University, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her research interests include anthropology of Islam, politics and secularism, modernity and difference, postcolonial Britain and France, anthropology of freedom, anthropology of Western Europe, and multiculturalism. She is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled On The Muslim Question: Anxieties of the Secular Republic, which analyzes the forms of subjectivity, religiosity, and political community constituted by Muslim French revivalists, the legal, political, and institutional practices that comprise laïcité, and the ways in which these practices constrain pious Muslims, who are often caught in the structural and discursive tensions endemic to laïcité. Among her publications are Reconfiguring Freedom: Muslim Piety and the Limits of Secular Law and Public Discourse in France” (2010), “Exceptional Citizens: Secular Muslim Women and the Politics of Difference in France” (2009), and “The Republic’s ‘Second Religion’: Recognizing Islam in France” (2005).


Co-sponsored by the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies

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