At Big Think, Joan Wallach Scott discusses French citizenship and laïcité in light of the current controversy over the burqa:
Scott’s recently published The Politics of the Veil
argues that the law is symptomatic of France’s failure to integrate its former colonial subjects as full citizens. She examines the long history of racism behind the law as well as the ideological barriers thrown up against Muslim assimilation. She emphasizes the conflicting approaches to sexuality that lie at the heart of the debate–how French supporters of the ban view sexual openness as the standard for normalcy, emancipation, and individuality, and the sexual modesty implicit in the headscarf as proof that Muslims can never become fully French. Scott maintains that the law, far from reconciling religious and ethnic differences, only exacerbates them. She shows how the insistence on homogeneity is no longer feasible for France–or the West in general–and how it creates the very “clash of civilizations” said to be at the root of these tensions.
Check out Scott’s interview with Big Think or her recent interview with David Kyuman Kim on The Immanent Frame.