CANCELLED: Improper Intimacies, or the Cunning of Secularism

Mayanthi Fernando
Date and Time: 
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 3:15pm

Department of Anthropology
Main Quad - Building 50
Room 51A (Colloquium Room)


How does the public/private distinction so central to secular-liberal democracy map onto the secular state's regulation of sex and religion? Focusing on contemporary France, this paper 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 what might be called the cunning of secular power.


Mayanthi L. Fernando is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is primarily interested in the intersection of religion, politics, sexuality, and secularity. Her first book, The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism, will be out in 2014 with Duke University Press.

Colloquium Series This Quarter