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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.

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’islamisme séduit-​il? (2015) by journalist Mohammed Sifaoui or Une France Soumise edited by Georges Bensoussan (2017) becoming widely read ‘popular current affairs’ interventions on the issue. The ubiquity of both these themes –​veil and violence –​clearly demonstrate a great sense of anxiety about Islam and Muslims in contemporary France. Indeed, the 1989 headscarf affaire, when three pupils were suspended from a collège (middle school) in Creil for refusing to remove their veil, became the first in 2 2 Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France a

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Public intellectuals as policy experts in times of crisis

107 4 Dounia Bouzar: 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 is an anthropologist of religions: a public intellectual, an activist, a public ‘expert’ and a public policy advisor. Bouzar was born in 1964 in Grenoble into an academic family. Her father was of Algerian, Italian and Moroccan origin and her mother was French Corsican. She explains in L

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Post-foundational Islam

language and symbolic power, as discussed in the Introduction, is, I argue, pertinent to an analysis of the work of Meddeb as a Muslim public intellectual, in particular the problems associated with speaking on behalf of others, which Bourdieu (1991) examines as particularly relevant. Bourdieu is suspicious of claims to democratic representation through the language of the spokesperson. He sees representation as a process of substitution where ultimately the spokesperson manipulates the group s/​he is supposedly meant to represent. In addition to the so-​called oracle

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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différentes sagesses philosophiques et religieuses, d’Orient et d’Occident:  la connaissance et la réalisation de soi, la qualité du lien avec autrui, la place de l’homme dans l’univers, etc. 2. un espace d’effervescence créatrice où chacun, qu’il soit intervenant ou participant, pourra contribuer dans des séances de discussion, de réflexion et 164 164 Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France d’imagination collective à l’exploration de cette interrogation majeure de notre temps: quelle vie spirituelle pour aujourd’hui et demain?2 1. An education

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
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Existentialist Islam as intercultural translation

Normale Supérieure 130 130 Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France and an agregé de philosophie (a qualified Philosophy teacher), Bidar has taught philosophy both in post-​high school classes préparatoires and at the University of Nice. Although Bidar has only been publishing since 2004, it is clear that his reflections about a European Islam have developed quite rapidly over the space of about twelve years. The discussion in this chapter will focus on eight of Bidar’s books and essays, all of which were published between 2004 and 2016:  Un

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

intériorisation de la foi’ (Babès ed. 1996: p. 129) (internalisation of faith) and has been a fierce critic of the so-​called voile islamique and voile intégral. Yet unlike other critics of the headscarf, such as the ‘ex-​Muslim’ Chahdortt Djavann (author of Bas les voiles!; Djavann 2006), Babès nevertheless maintains a position as a secular Muslim public intellectual who argues that Islam can be a progressive and positive phenomenon if its reactionary and conservative spokesmen are sidelined. Her weekly radio editorials on Medi1 Radio (Points de vue) provide a critical

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

52 2 Malek Chebel: Enlightenment Islam Malek Chebel is a French-​Algerian anthropologist, psychoanalyst and historian who has been based in France since the late 1970s. Chebel can be described as a public intellectual, who, in addition to his presence in the French media, has published widely (about forty-​one books) on Islam in general and, more specifically, on the subject he refers to as l’islam des Lumières (Enlightenment Islam). Chebel was born in Skikda, Algeria in 1953 and came to France in 1977 to pursue a PhD in clinical psychopathology and

in Secularism, Islam and public intellectuals in contemporary France
Peopling the paper house

reviews and commentary in newspapers and journals, to participating in television and radio debates and ad-hoc literary discussions at festivals and live events. Assuming the role not of reclusive writer but of public intellectual, A. S. Byatt has never disappeared neatly under cover of fiction, but has taken every opportunity to communicate her enthusiasm for all matters literary – and indeed beyond. Readers

in A. S. Byatt

) to propose that Foucault’s interview-work exceeds the function of the paratextual, constituting a distinct domain of his practise as a philosopher and public intellectual. In fact, Foucault’s interview practice is, according to Deleuze, of primary importance to understanding his work overall: ‘[t]‌he complete work of Foucault […] cannot separate off the books which have made

in Foucault’s theatres