Middle East Studies

Islamo-leftism and Debates on Class, Gender, and Religious Hierarchies in France


Thursday, September 23, 2021

12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

Virtual Event
Registration required.

Panel event is hosted by Professors Nadje Al-Ali and Katharina Galor, Brown University.
In recent years, a group of French intellectuals have questioned the benefit of academic 
research that explores questions of ethnicity, race, gender, intersectionality, post-colonialism, and Islamophobia. Often lumped together and defined as “identity politics,” these same critics blame American society and academia for influencing French left-wing scholars and activists. These voices that feel threatened by the increasing success of genuinely critical and progressive thinking, inflamed by last year’s beheading of a high school teacher, shape media, political discourses, and initiatives more and more. Last year, President Emmanuel Macron initiated a new bill against Islamist “separatism,” designed to exercise greater control over Muslim schools and mosques; 

Racialization and Racism in the Middle East and its Diasporas
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Jean-Michel Blanquer, Minister of National Education, warned that “Islamo-leftism” was “wreaking havoc in society" and denounced what he described as “the intellectual complicity in terrorism"; finally, Frederique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, advocated for an investigation into university research with the goal to distinguish “real” research from alleged left-wing “militancy.” Despite the appeal among the growing Islamophobic majority of the French electorate, those attacked as Islamo-leftists are neither “Islamists” nor, in most cases, Muslims. Targeted individuals and organizations include opposition leader Jean-Luc Melanchon, journalists openly critical of Macron, leftist student unions, “radical” feminist groups, and anti-racist groups fighting against discrimination and neo-colonialism, including Collective Against Islamophobia and Black Lives Matter.

About the Panelists

Éric Fassin, University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, France

Nacira Guénif-Souilamas, University of Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint-Denis, France

Eléonore Lépinard, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

Nonna MayerSciences Po, CNRS, Paris