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Unveiling Sexuality: Sex and Secularism in French and Quebecois Full-Face Veil Prohibitions

Unveiling Sexuality: Sex and Secularism in French and Quebecois Full-Face Veil Prohibitions
1 Devonshire Place, Room 208
Time: Sep 21st, 4:00 pm End: Sep 21st, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: Women & Gender Studies (FAS), Religion, Study of (FAS), Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations (FAS), French and Linguistics (UTSC), French (FAS), Diaspora/Transnational, Critical Theory, Canada, Anthropology (UTM), Anthropology (FAS), 2000-
Lecture by Jennifer Selby, Memorial University

The Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies is pleased to present:

Jennifer Selby, Religious Studies, Memorial University of Newfoundland

Unveiling Sexuality: Sex and Secularism in French and Quebecois Full-Face Veil Prohibitions

Jennifer Selby is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her work broadly considers Islam in contemporary France and in Canada. Her current research is centered upon two broad projects:
 First, she is working with data gathered during ethnographic research that focussed on gender politics, Islam and public policy on secularism in contemporary France, as well as in transnational fieldwork in Kabylia, Algeria and in a Parisian suburb. This project is tentatively titled, Du bled aux banlieues: Constructing Islam in Postcolonial Marriage Migration to France. In addition, she is doing ethnographic research in Canada that considers Islam and public policy in the Greater Toronto Area as well as orthodoxy and everyday religious practices in St. John’s, NL. She is the author of Questioning French Secularism: Gender Politics and Islam in a Parisian Suburb (New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press, 2012) and co-editor (with Anna C. Korteweg) of Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics and Family Law Arbitration (Toronto: University of Toronto Press. 2012).

Abstract:  Heated discussion in the media, costly and laborious government commissions, and restrictive legal recommendations in France and Quebec, Canada have recently focused on the undesirability of face-covering veils (burqas and niqabs) in the public sphere. This talk charts how these sites have, at the same time, generated a contrasting idealized presentation of a desireable secular female body. This examination is grounded in recent secularism studies scholarship that argues that, like forms of religiosity, secularisms include a range of social and physical dispositions, or what Michael Warner calls “a framework of corporeal experience and struggle” (Warner 2008; see also, Calhoun et al. 2011; Mahmood 2009; Jakobsen and Pellegrini 2008; Asad 2003). Through consideration of two recent niqab-wearing women’s legal cases outside of Paris and in Montreal, and with reference to Michel Foucault's theory of governmentality (1980, 1988) and Nilüfer Göle’s notion of sameness (2007), I examine the regulatory functions and normalizing delineations of female sexuality within restrictions against full-face hijabs.

This event is free and open to the public but registration is required.  Please click HERE to register. For further information, please contact Daria Dumbadze.


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