French Republican secularism and Islam in North African diasporic cultural production
Centuries of anti-Arab stigma continue to haunt Franco-Maghrebians, the descendants of ex-colonial French North African migrants born and brought up in France. Franco-Maghrebians’ anti-colonial civic resistances (riots) against decades of segregation are dismissed as evidence of their alleged Islamicization and communitarianism. Focussing on Azouz Begag’s novel Béni ou le paradis privé (1989), this article explores how Franco-Maghrebians’ investment in and reproduction of the Republican secular world-view in fact leads to the denigration, suppression and corporeal annihilation of their Arabo-Muslim heritages. Drawing upon the theories of Jacques Derrida (1996) and Mikhail Bakhtin (1981), western philosophical obsession with origins, centres and margins returns diasporic citizens to colonial dualistic binaries, trapping them in the mirrors of negation and affirmation. Such a predicament is contrasted with the presentation of alternative philosophical perspectives of the other in Ismaël Ferroukhi’s film Le grand voyage (2004). Making references to Seyyed Hossein Nasr (2002), Ali Shariati (1979) and Karen Armstrong (2012), this research examines how Islamic ethical imperatives captured in motion across lands, cultures and time envision coexistence, contesting much of the existing discourse surrounding French Muslims and Islam.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of South Australia
Publication date: December 1, 2013
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- merging from an international network project funded by the British Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economics and Social Research Council, and research collaboration between academics and practitioners, Performing Islam is the first peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal about Islam and performance and their related aesthetics. It focuses on socio-cultural as well as the historical and political contexts of artistic practices in the Muslim world. The journal covers dance, ritual, theatre, performing arts, visual arts and cultures, and popular entertainment in Islam-influenced societies and their diasporas. It promotes insightful research of performative expressions of Islam by performers and publics, and encompasses theoretical debates, empirical studies, postgraduate research, interviews with performers, research notes and queries, and reviews of books, conferences, festivals, events and performances.
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