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      Faculty Workshop: Emily Laxer—Book Talk: Unveiling the Nation: The Politics of Secularism in France and Québec in Toronto


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      February 26, 2020

      Wednesday  12:30 PM

      170 St. George Street, Suite 530
      Toronto, Ontario

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      Faculty Workshop: Emily Laxer—Book Talk: Unveiling the Nation: The Politics of Secularism in France and Québec

      How do states in large-scale immigration countries decide whether and how to incorporate the practices of religious minorities – particularly Muslims – within their territories?  For many migration scholars, the answer to this question lies in countries’ differing models of nationhood and their attendant discourses of secularism.  Drawing on my recent book, Unveiling the Nation: The Politics of Secularism in France and Québec (McGill-Queen’s Press 2019), I propose an alternative approach, which attends to the role of competition among political parties to dictate the terms of national belonging in contexts of diversity.  The cases I draw from are those of France and Québec.  Both societies have seen the proliferation of debate over whether Islamic veiling constitutes a threat to established institutional and discursive notions of secularism.  Yet, the unfolding of that debate has differed in the two settings.  In France’s historically class-based political system, parties on the left and the right have converged around a restrictive secular agenda in order to limit the siphoning of votes by the ultra-right.  In Québec, the longstanding salience of the ‘national question’ has encouraged political actors to project conflicting images of the province’s secular past, present, and future.  Based on these findings, I argue that future attempts to understand states’ differing responses to religious diversity must pay closer attention to the mechanics of partisan conflict and to the strategic imperatives behind political actors’ constructions of the secular state. 

      Categories: Literary & Books | Politics & Activism

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