I am a Professor and Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Religious Studies, cross-appointed to the Department of Political Science, as well as an affiliate member of the Department of Gender Studies at Memorial University.

My research and teaching aim to challenge a sociopolitical assumption – that there is a radical divide between the so-called West and Muslim Worlds – through critique of how this matrix plays out in the lives of everyday people. I examine this quandary through the lens of secularism, understood as a separation of religion from politics, and often assumed as a key guarantor of  liberalism, democracy, rationality, and gender equality.

The core argument of my research is that secularism(s) in the North Atlantic world are intimately related to the regulation of religion. More empirically, my research is ethnographic and examines secularism and Muslim lives in contemporary France and Canada.

I currently serve as co-chair of the Anthropology of Religion section for the American Academy of Religion, as well as on the executive of the Canadian Corporation for the Study of Religion.


Fields Of Research

  • Islam in the North Atlantic world (France, Canada)
  • Method and Theory
  • Secularism Studies
  • Islam, Interpretations of Sharia
  • Women and Islam, Gender Studies
  • Religion and Public Policy in Canada


BA Honours (U Winnipeg), MA (Queen's University), PhD (McMaster University), Postdoctoral Fellowship (Harvard University)

Teaching Schedule

Fall 2023

RELS 2340, Islam

LWPP/POSC/RELS 3385, Religion and Law in Canada

Office Hours

By appointment

Office: 5029 Arts and Administration | Telephone: (709) 864-4046 | Email: jselby@mun.ca