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4 Field Colloquium: "Materializing Proper Religion: The Architecture and Aesthetics of Secularity"

Friday, April 10, 2015
4:00 AM
411 West Hall

Over the past decade, many scholars have come to understand secularism not as the separation of religion and politics but rather as the state’s administrative and legal regulation of religious life. Much recent analysis has focused on law; less explored are the social, aesthetic, bodily, and ethical norms that work together to produce not only a discrete notion of religion but also the embodied sensibilities of the secular. Drawing on my research in France, I try to attend to the materiality of the secular, to its grounding in certain spatial and bodily forms. I discuss two cases: first, the construction of the Institute for the Cultures of Islam by the Parisian municipality as a way to understand the normative spatiality of proper (i.e. secular) religion; and second, the critique of veiling as a way to understand the sexual, aesthetic, and bodily norms of the properly secular woman.

Mayanthi Fernando