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Human Rights Program, French Studies Program, Anthropology Program, and Religion Program present

"Sex, Religion, and Secular Cunning"

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mayanthi Fernando
University of California & Wesleyan University

How does the public/private distinction so central to secular-liberal democracy inflect the secular state's regulation of sex and religion? Focusing on contemporary France, this talk analyzes how political and legal practices aimed at securing secularity by rendering both sex and religion private paradoxically compel Muslim women to reveal in public the innermost details of their sexual and religious lives. That dual incitement to hide and to exhibit, and the grim consequences of exhibiting that which must be hidden, constitute "the cunning of secular power." 

Mayanthi Fernando is Assistant Professor Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently a visiting professor of Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University for Spring 2013. Her first book is Asymmetries of the Republic: Islam, Secularism, and the Future of France, forthcoming from Duke University Press.


For more information, call 845-758-7201, or e-mail afarman@bard.edu.

Location: Olin, Room 102