My research considers contemporary secularism’s contradictions and contingencies through the lenses of Muslim Canadian and French experiences, with particular attention to its relationships to postcoloniality and gender.
The core argument of my research is that articulations of the secular in contemporary France and Canada are always intimately related to the regulation of religion, and index desirable sexualities, whiteness and the post-colonial nation state. My primary methodological approach – ethnography – sheds light on the voices of those often silenced within these matrixes.
Presently, I'm working on projects centred on:
- The Secular Body: I am currently completing SSHRC-sponsored transnational fieldwork in Montréal, Algeria and in a Parisian suburb for a project examining Islam, marriage migration and interventions of the state and how they reflect 'secular sensibilities' with attention to the body (see this information brochure).
- On Theory & Methods: Building on a Connections-sponsored workshop in Sept. 2017, I am considering how and why certain questions are posed in academic considerations of Islam(s) and Muslims in Canada.
- How "Secular Sensibilities" Impact interpretations of the Shariah: This line of research considers how the state’s positions on the secular (and therefore, religion) intimately impact Muslim French and Muslim Canadians interpretations of Islamic law.
- Introducing New Ways of Thinking about Religion and Difference in Canada: Beyond Accommodation: Everyday Narratives of Muslim Canadians (2018, UBC Press), interpolates secularism and the Muslim experience in Canada. With co-authors Barras and Beaman, we critique the prevalent ‘reasonable accommodation’ approach to religion in Canada, drawing on qualitative interviews conducted with 90 self-defined Muslims in Montreal and St. John’s. In contrast to much of the contemporary research on Muslims in minority contexts, our research theorizes moments in which religiosity is worked out.
- How Muslim life is imagined alongside the secular in the North Atlantic world: Much of my early work problematizes the French nation state's increasingly narrow post-1989 social-secular-sexual regime within the lives of women of Maghrebian origin living in a French suburban housing project. Methodologically, I have also considered this line of thinking through discourse analysis of contemporary governmental, legal and political interventions.
In addition, I am co-investigator (PI Roxanne Marcotte, UQAM) on a qualitative SSHRC-funded program, “New Muslim Public Spheres in the Digital Age: Identity, Community, Diversity and Authority in Canada" and on the SSHRC-funded, "Islamophobie savante et médiatique: Étude transnationale des discours et leur impact" (PI Abdelwahed Mekki-Berrada, U Laval).
Forthcoming. Producing Islam(s) in Canada: On Knowledge, Positionality and Politics. (edited with Amélie Barras and Melanie Adrian). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
2018. Beyond Accommodation: Everyday Narratives of Muslim Canadians. (with Amélie Barras and Lori G. Beaman). Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
2012. Questioning French Secularism: Gender Politics and Islam in a Parisian Suburb. The Contemporary Anthropology of Religion Series. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press (Paperback version, 2016; Arabic translation, 2019; Turkish translation forthcoming).
2012. Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics and Family Law Arbitration, co-edited with Anna C. Korteweg. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Read a short overview here.
2020. "Open Secularism from the Margins", co-edited with Carlos Colorado. Social Compass (April): 1-15.
2016. "Re/posing the 'Muslim Question', co-edited with Lori G. Beaman. Critical Research on Religion 4:1 (April): 8-20.
2020. “L’angle mort de la « laïcité ouverte » : Les processus de navigation et négociations dans le vécu religieux au Canada.” (first author, with A. Barras and L.G. Beaman). Social Compass. April. 1-15.
2019. “Required Romance: On Secular Sensibilities in Recent French Marriage and Immigration Regulations” in Secular Bodies, Affects, and Emotions: European Configurations. Eds. Monique Scheer, Nadia Fadil, and Birgitte Schepelern Johansen. Bloomsbury, 157-169.
2019. “Interrogating Categories with Ethnography: On the ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam,” for Constructing 'Data' in Religious Studies: Examining the Architecture of the Academy. Ed. Leslie Dorrough Smith. Sheffield: Equinox. 61-72.
2018. "Rethinking Canadian Discourses of Reasonable Accommodation" (second author, with A. Barras and L.G. Beaman). Social Inclusion 6:2 162-172.
2018. “Secularism and the Shari'a: Lessons from an Ontarian Debate” in The Shari’a: History, Ethics and Law, Muslim Heritage Series. Ed. Amyn Sajoo. London: I.B. Tauris, 215-230.
2018."Le terroriste, l'homme éclairé et le patriarche: Les figures qui hantent le quotidien des musulmanes." (premier auteur, avec Amélie Barras et Lori G. Beaman). Anthropologie et sociétés 42:2 (avril): 155-182.
2018. "“Muslim Canadians.” In Exploring Religion and Diversity in Canada: People, Practice and Possibility. Ed. Catherine Holtmann. Cham: Switzerland: Springer, 207-236.
2017. "Le bled en banlieue: Le mariage musulman face à l'État français." Ethnologie française (décembre): 693-705.
2016. "Theorizing de-Christianization in Women's Reproductive Lives in Newfoundland and Labrador" (second author, with Diana L. Gustafson) Women's Studies International Forum 59: (November-December) 17-25.
2016. "Muslimness and Multiplicity in Qualitative Research and in Governmental Reports in Canada" Critical Research on Religion 4:1 (April): 72-89.
2016. "No Mosque, No Refugees: Some Reflections on Syrian Refugees and the Construction of Religion in Canada." (with Lori Beaman and Amélie Barras). In The Refugee Crisis and Religion: Secularism, Security and Hospitality in Question. Eds. Luca Mavelli and Erin Wilson. Rowman and Littlefield.
2016. "'The Diamond Ring Now is the Thing': Young Muslim Torontonian Women Negotiating Mahr on the Web." In Muslim Youth and the 9/11 Generation. Eds. Adeline Masquelier and Benjamin F. Soares. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 189-212.
2016. "In/Visible Religion in Public Institutions: Canadian Muslim Public Servants." (with Amélie Barras and Lori Beaman). In Religion and the Exercise of Public Authority. Eds. Benjamin Berger and Richard Moon. London: Hart Publishing, 95-110.
2014. “Un/veiling Women's Bodies: Secularism and Sexuality in Full-face Veil Prohibitions in France and Québec.” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 43:3 439-466.
2014. “Hijab Debates in Europe.” In The Handbook of European Islam. Ed. Jocelyne Cesari. New York: Oxford University Press, 701- 741.
2014. “France.” In The Handbook of European Islam. Ed. Jocelyne Cesari. New York: Oxford University Press, 23-63.
2014. "C’est plus traditionnel ici qu’au bled: Analyse socio-spatiale du traditionalisme religieux dans une banlieue parisienne." Ethnologie Française 44: 3 515-526. Published in English here.
2013. “Promoting the Everyday: Public Relations and Pro-Sharia Advocacy in Ontario, Canada’s 'Sharia Debate'.” Religions [Special issue: Islam, Immigration, and Identity, ed. Todd Green] 4:3 (September): 423-442.
2013. “Polygamy in the Parisian Banlieues: Discourse and Debate on the 2005 French Urban Riots” In Polygamy’s Rights and Wrongs: Perspectives on Harm, Family, and Law. Eds. Gillian Calder and Lori Beaman. Vancouver: UBC Press, 89-103.
2012. “Suburban Muslims: 2004 Debates Outside of Toronto and Paris.” In Religion and Canadian Society: Traditions, Transitions, and Innovations. Second Edition. Ed. Lori G. Beaman. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 115-136.
2012. “How ‘They’ Construct ‘Us’: Reflections on Binaries and the Politics of Identity in the Field.” In Missionary Impositions: Conversion, Resistance, and other Challenges to Objectivity in Religious Ethnography, eds. Hillary Crane and Deana Weibel. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 47-62.
2012. “Construing the Secular: Implications of the Ontario Sharia Debate.” ’ In Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics and Family Law Arbitration. Eds. A.C. Korteweg and J. A. Selby. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 351-376.
2012. Co-authored with Korteweg (Selby first author). “Introduction: Situating the Debate in Ontario.” In Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics and Family Law Arbitration. Eds. A.C. Korteweg and J. A. Selby. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 12-34.
2012. Co-authored with Korteweg (Korteweg first author). “Conclusion: Debating Sharia in the West.” In Debating Sharia: Islam, Gender Politics and Family Law Arbitration. Eds. A.C. Korteweg and J. A. Selby. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 377-394.
2011. “French Secularism as a Guarantor of Women’s Rights? Islam and Gender Politics in a Parisian Banlieue.” Culture and Religion 12:4 (December): 441-462.
2011. “Islam in France Reconfigured: Republican Islam in the 2010 Gerin Report.” The Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 31:3 (September): 383-398.
2019. Review of Musulmans de France, la grande épreuve: Face au terrorisme (Ivry-sur-Seine: Les Éditions de l’Atelier) for Ethnologie française. 173:1 (January): 160-162.
2018. Review of Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture (New York: Fordham University Press) for Reading Religion. November.
2017. Review of Pious Practice and Secular Constraints: Women in the Islamic Revival in Europe (Stanford University Press) for ReOrient:The Journal of Critical Muslim Studies 2:2 (Spring): 204-207.
2016. Can a Judge Determine Acceptable Religious Attire in a Quebec, Canada Courtroom? Shariasource, October 13.
2015. Review of Islamic Divorce in North America: A Shari’a Path in a Secular Society (Oxford: Oxford University Press) for Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life 9:1 (January): 127-129.
2014. (with Mayanthi Fernando). Short skirts and niqab bans: On sexuality and the secular body. The Immanent Frame.
2014. Review of On the Muslim Question (Princeton: Princeton UP). Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses. 43:3 (September): 540-542.
2014. Review of The Republic and the Riots: Exploring Urban Violence in French Suburbs, 2005- 2007 (Oxford: Peter Lang). Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews. 43:1 (January): 107-108.