Browsing by Subject "Communautarisme"

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  • Lizotte, Christopher (2020)
    Laicite, France's idiosyncratic form of secularism, is a complex concept that is dense with historical genealogy, practical contradictions and - crucially - political geographies. In particular, contemporary Laicite is characterized by a state-sponsored model of universal citizenship that regards French Muslims' identity claims with mistrust. This tension, always latent, was brought to the fore by a series of attacks perpetrated self-styled jihadists in January 2015, centered on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo notorious for its provocations against Islam. The attacks and their aftermath also highlighted a key space where conflicts over Laicite often play out: the French public school, the ecole republicaine. This institution was conceived in its modern form as a mechanism to assimilate through laique pedagogy. Today it is a highly visible space where the optics of race and gender contribute to a narrative of Muslim communautarisme, a willful and defiant communalism that rejects the republican community of citizens. Following a handful of incidents in which students refused to participate in a moment of silence for the victims of the January 2015 attacks, the Ministry of Education undertook an initiative involving disciplinary and pedagogical supports for Laicite in the schools, called the Great Mobilisation for the Republic's Values. Like other past interventions in this area, it operationalizes an assimilating vision of Laicite to bring recalcitrant peripheries into compliance with republican norms. At the same time, though, it reveals the agency of the peripheries to negotiate the terms of Laicite according to local knowledge and needs. On the basis of interviews with educators serving in schools where elements of the Grand Mobilisation were carried out, I show how they push back against the overarching narratives that characterize the initiative and in so doing construct localized and nuanced understandings of the laique social pact.