Abstract only
Public intellectuals as policy experts in times of crisis

The work of Dounia Bouzar and her engagement in the political debates about Muslims in France raises significant questions about the relationship between Islam, secularism and feminism. Bouzar could be described as a Muslim feminist, in that her work has consistently been concerned with what she calls ‘la condition féminine’, including questions such as the headscarf, women’s equality in the private and public spheres and, more recently, the indoctrination of young Muslim women by Islamist groups. This chapter will focus on Bouzar’s recent writings from a feminist perspective, taking into account the following themes in particular: disruptive discourses in the public arena, the notion of la femme-alibi (token woman), the experiences of women who intervene in the public arena and, finally, the relationship between feminism and anti-racism.

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
Abstract only

The Introduction discusses the rationale for a book about secular Muslim intellectuals in contemporary France. In particular, the Introduction will demonstrate that most scholarship on Islam in contemporary France has focused on debates around the Islamic headscarf or questions relating to Islamic fundamentalism, with little attention paid to those French Muslims working within the paradigms of islamité and laïcité. The Introduction also presents the interdisciplinary framing of the book, which will draw on current theoretical debates in Francophone postcolonial studies, the sociology and anthropology of Islam and secularisation, and philosophical, critical religious studies and critical theoretical approaches to themes such as alterity, belief, cultural pluralism, recognition and subjectivity. Furthermore, this chapter will discuss the methodology employed in this study, namely close textual and contextual analysis of the intellectuals’ published works and public interventions.

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
Abstract only
Spirituality, affect and women

This chapter will demonstrate why Babès’ contributions are significant, in that they go well beyond the almost obsessive nature of French public debates regarding so-called ‘Islamic dress’ – the ‘external’ face of Islam, with the associated anxieties about women’s bodies and their outward appearances – to contemplate the ‘interiority’ and lived experience of Islam, a narrative which runs counter to political constructions or dominant discursive frameworks of Islam as a monolithic entity in contemporary France. Her work seeks to articulate a nuanced knowledge of Islam with an approach that examines the spiritual lives of Muslims, particularly in contemporary France. One finds throughout her work (in the form of monographs, essays, media interviews and blogs) a consistent interest in three aspects of Islam: what Babès refers to as la foi, le rite and la loi, that is, faith, rituals (practices) and religious law.

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
Abstract only
Enlightenment Islam

The chapter will critically assess Chebel’s thought via an engagement with a variety of his monographs, essays and articles published in France between 2002 and 2016. Despite the wide range of topics under discussion in Chebel’s work, it is possible to nevertheless identify a number of recurring themes such as reason, subjectivity, secularism, the body, love and sexuality in Islam. His approach could be described as a project of cultural translation, in which Chebel can be regarded as a cultural mediator who seeks to productively confront non-Western and Western concepts of religion, spirituality, modernity and humanism. Of specific significance is Chebel’s foregrounding of a language of Islamic secularism, which can be interpreted as an attempt to transform perceptions of Islam and thus to intervene in the symbolic relationship between the Republican ideology of laïcité and France’s Muslim citizens.

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France

Through its focus on secular Muslim public intellectuals in contemporary France, this book challenges polarizing accounts of Islam and Muslims, which have been ubiquitous in political and media debates for the last thirty years. The work of these intellectuals is significant because it expresses, in diverse ways, an ‘internal’ vision of Islam that demonstrates how Muslim identification and practices successfully engage with and are part of a culture of secularism (laïcité). The study of individual secular Muslim intellectuals in contemporary France thus gives credence to the claim that the categories of religion and the secular are more closely intertwined than we might assume. This monograph is a timely publication that makes a crucial contribution to academic and political debates about the place of Islam and Muslims in contemporary France. The book will focus on a discursive and contextualised analysis of the published works and public interventions of Abdelwahab Meddeb, Malek Chebel, Leïla Babès, Dounia Bouzar and Abdennour Bidar – intellectuals who have received little scholarly attention despite being well-known figures in France.

Abstract only
The politics of modernisation and manipulation

This book provides a new and distinctive interpretation on the political strategy of David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. Rather than offering a chronological overview of his leadership, or a policy-based approach, the book assesses Cameronism via two themes – modernisation and manipulation. In terms of the modernisation the book will examine the following. First, how Cameron attempted to detoxify the negative image of the Conservatives. Second, how Cameron sought to delegitimise Labour as a party of government by deflecting the blame on austerity onto the legacy of Labour in office. Third, how Cameron used the Big Society narrative as a means of reducing the perceived responsibilities of the state. In terms of manipulation the book will evaluate Cameronism in relation to coalition government, and the exploitation of the Liberal Democrats will be examined, notably in relation to austerity, tuition fees and electoral reform. Cameronism will also be examined in relation the challenges to the existing political order by considering the demands for Scottish independence, and the rise of UKIP and the case for a referendum on continued European Union membership. Through this dual emphasis on modernisation and manipulation the book will provide an exploration of the key events and issues that defined the premiership of David Cameron, and a clear overview of his successes and failures as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. The book will be essential reading to those interested in British party politics and prime ministerial leadership.

Limiting Liberal Democrat influence

Chapter 5 evaluates the dynamics of the coalition government from the perspective of agenda control. With an emphasis on how the Liberal Democrats were marginalised the chapter will focus on (a) policy and (b) personnel. On policy, the chapter will identify how although the Liberal Democrats secured some concessions in terms of the NHS, education, pensioners and social care, the Conservatives protected their red lines in terms of the budget deficit; defence; immigration; Europe; crime; policing; immigration and justice. The chapter will then identify how whatever concessions the Liberal Democrats did secure were limited, because of the following: (a) tuition fees was a policy area with a real capacity to hurt them; and (b) the coalition agreement made it clear that the trajectory of social policy would be subordinated to deficit reduction. On personnel, the chapter will identify how the Liberal Democrats did well out of the coalition negotiations in terms of the number of ministerial positions secured, but that the Conservatives retained control of the departments that were central to their agenda and identify. Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats were marginalised by the Conservatives in terms of portfolio allocation, which would undermine their ability to influence the trajectory of policy.

in Cameron
Abstract only

The introduction identifies the significance of the political leadership of David Cameron to our understanding of contemporary British politics. It will argue that the politics of Cameronism can be seen through the dual lens of political modernisation and manipulation. In terms of political modernisation, the introduction will identify the importance of the following: first, how Cameron sought to detoxify the negative image of the Conservative Party and promote a more socially liberal brand of modern Conservatism; second, how Cameron sought to apportion blame for the economic crash on the Labour Party to delegitimise them; and third, how Cameron sought to utilise perceptions of economic and social decline to make the case for a shift from Big Government and towards a new narrative of the Big Society – which amounted to a form of depoliticisation. In terms of political manipulation the introduction will identify how understanding Cameronism requires an examination of the coalition relations in terms of policy, personnel and legislative behaviour. It will also identify the challenges facing Cameron caused by the rise of multi-party politics – i.e. the Liberal Democrats and electoral reform, the Scottish National Party and Scottish independence, and UKIP and continued membership of the European Union.

in Cameron
The rise of multi-party politics

The aim of chapter 7 is to consider how Cameron responded to the challenges to the existing political order. Focusing in on the rise of multi-party politics, the chapter identifies how the increasing electoral support for the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and UKIP threatened the existing dimensionality through which British politics operated. The chapter considers the reasons why Cameron decided to offer a referendum on electoral reform and explains why he was successful at nullifying this threat. The chapter examines why Cameron was forced to offer a referendum on Scottish independence, and explores how it failed to quell the tide of Scottish nationalism, but it did create an electoral advantage for the Conservatives given the collapse of Scottish Labour. The third case study of the chapter identifies why Cameron had to offer a referendum on continued membership of the European Union. The chapter focuses in on how the electoral threat from UKIP, and the infighting within his own parliamentary ranks, could have been overcome with a comfortable remain vote. The reason why Cameron failed is attributed to the weakness of the renegotiated terms of membership, and his misplaced assumption that economic security would trump concerns about immigration.

in Cameron
Abstract only
Coalition unity and the exploitation of the Liberal Democrats

Chapter 6 considers how the Liberal Democrats were exploited in legislative terms within the coalition. The chapter provides an overview of the coalition in terms of legislative cohesion. Having identifying the high rate of dissent, and the issues that provoked dissent, the chapter will explore how despite this it made little impact upon the credibility of Cameron as Prime Minister – i.e. perceptions differed for him as a coalition Prime Minister experiencing rebellion. The chapter will also provide an overview of the consequences for the Liberal Democrats of binding themselves legislatively to the Conservatives. The chapter will highlight the issue of austerity being in the national interest and not ideologically driven and tuition fees, as examples of how the distinctiveness of the Liberal Democrats was undermined by being in coalition. Having evaluated the conundrum of providing unity to the government versus maintaining their own distinctiveness for electoral reasons, the chapter considers the limited evidence of the Liberal Democrats being seen to have influence within the coalition. The chapter identifies how this amounted to a success for Cameron as evidenced from the gains made by the Conservatives, at the expense of the Liberal Democrats, at the 2015 General Election.

in Cameron