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French Culture Wars? The Political and Intellectual Stakes of the Polemic on “Islamo-leftism”

General Programming

dateMay 6, 2021 timeThursday, 2:00pm–3:15pm EDT locationVirtual Event
  • The Alliance Program
  • The Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life
  • The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center of the Humanities
  • Maison Française
  • Free and open to the public
  • Registration required. See details.
Red button that reads "Islamo Gauchiste"

In recent months, French President Macron and members of his government as well as several groups of intellectuals and academics have sounded an alarm about the influence of supposed “Islamo-gauchisme” within French universities — a highly controversial term used to accuse left-leaning intellectuals of justifying Islamism and even terrorism.

Invited panelists in this conversation will provide some political and academic context and offer definitions of the terms and arguments deployed in these attacks. What is really at stake here? How can these arguments be understood in today’s French political landscape? What do they reveal about the deeper transformations underway in the social sciences in France? How are they related to the fast-paced transformation of the role and organization of the University in French society? Why are post-colonial studies, race and gender studies, and “intersectionality” seen as “American imports” threatening the French “republican” model?

Eric Fassin is Professor of Sociology at the University of Paris 8 St-Denis. Fassin's research focuses on contemporary sexual and racial politics in France and the U.S. and their intersections in a comparative perspective. His books include L'inversion de la question homosexuelle(2005), Le sexe politique: Genre et sexualité au miroir transatlantique(2009), and De la question sociale à la question raciale ? (From the Social Question to the Racial Question?).

Maboula Soumahoro is an Associate Professor in the English Department of the University of Tours, France. Her research interests include U.S. Studies, African American Studies, Africana Studies (Atlantic), Black European Studies, and Black Nationalism and Religion. Dr. Soumahoro has also served as a member of the National Committee for the Memory and History of Slavery. She is the author of Le Triangle et l’Hexagone, réflexions sur une identité noire (Black is the Journey, Africana the Name, La Découverte, forthcoming 2020).

Emmanuelle Saada is Professor of French and History at Columbia.