Islam and the French: Religion and Laïcité in the Public Sphere

Islam and the French:  Religion and Laïcité in the Public Sphere

February 24, 2017
Pembroke Hall 305
172 Meeting Street
8:30am - 5:30pm

This is the inaugural conference of the Center of Excellence at Brown University.  The speakers will examine the debates surrounding the place of Islam in French Society today.  Focusing on the current polemics surrounding laïcité--a uniquely French phenomenon that differs fundamentally from other forms of secularization in that the State guarantees the private practice of religion while insisting on a strict separation of Church and State--participants will investigate the emergence of a new public visibility of Islam in the West and the anxieties it is generating.  On the one hand, Islam is seen by some as a fundamentally different religion posing a new, specific threat that makes it incompatible with French identity and modernity.  On the other, because it is the religion of immigrants from Muslim countries, its practice is seen as posing particular challenges to French society, as the controversies over the headscarf and halal meat testify.  In the context of European integration, globalization, and migrations, recent debates over French identity have focused on Islam and are reshaping the intellectual and political place of religion and religiosity in public life.

Speakers include:  John Bowen, Washington University; Ian Coller, University of California/Irvine; Naomi Davidson, University of Ottawa; Mayanthi Fernando, University of California/Santa Cruz; Ethan Katz, University of Cincinnati; and Nadia Marzouki, École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS).

Talk abstracts

Videotape Archive of Conference
Panel One:  Coller, Katz, Mandel (Moderator)
Panel Two:  Davidson, Fernando, Schultz (Moderator)
Panel Three:  Bowen, Colvin (Moderator)

Nadia Marzouki chose not to be included in the videotaping.

Co-sponsored by the French Embassy in the United States, Pierre and Mary Ann Sorel '92, Dean of the College, Department of French Studies, the Cogut Center for the Humanities, and the Humanities Initiative.

Note to off-campus visitors:  Parking on campus can be a challenge.  Parking meters are rigorously enforced by the Providence police.  Visit this page for tips.

Conference-goers might also be interested in:

Part of the French Film Festival
February 25
Cable Car Cinema
204 South Main Street

Fatima lives on her own with two daughters to support: 15-year old Souad, a teenager in revolt, and 18-year old Nesrine, who is starting medical school. Fatima speaks French poorly and is constantly frustrated by her daily interactions with her daughters. Her pride and joy, they are also a source of worry. To ensure the best possible future for them, she works odd hours as a cleaning woman. One day, she takes a fall on the stairs. On leave, Fatima begins to write to her daughters in Arabic that which she has never been able to express in French. 

For more information and ticket prices, visit Cable Car Cinema, or call 401/272-3970.