Contemporary Islam

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 177–180 | Cite as

Review of Jennifer Selby, Questioning French Secularism: Gender Politics and Islam in a Parisian Suburb

New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, xiii + 241 pp. ISBN 978-0-230-12101-0
  • Mikaela Rogozen-Soltar

Jennifer Selby’s ethnography of North African Muslim migrants living in the Petit Nanterre banlieue (disenfranchised suburb) outside of Paris is an ethnographically rich contribution to the growing body of anthropological literature about Muslims and migrants in France. The heart of Selby’s argument is that the French state and dominant voices among French secular feminists have entrenched a narrative in which laïcité (the particular French version of what many in Anglophone contexts call secularism), democracy, and modernity are defined by gender equality, understood as inimical to Islam. Further, this narrow French focus on Muslim women’s supposedly subordinate status as both an impediment to laïcité and as something laïcité can resolve, effectively displaces conversations about the issues France’s Muslim migrant women are concerned about. Among Selby’s research participants, these issues include halaalfood in schools, residence papers and other issues of migrant legality, and a...


Islam Secularism France Gender Migration 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fox Center for Humanistic InquiryEmory UniversityAtlantaUSA

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