Secular Institutions, Islam and Education Policy France and the U.S. in Comparative Perspective

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2016-03-23
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

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In January 2015, three attackers walked into the office of the satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, opened fire and killed twelve people, including a Muslim policeman, in the deadliest terrorist attack on France for 50 years. We live in a time of suspicion and fear, not least because religion has returned to the centre stage of collective memories in Europe and in the United States. Amidst claims of threats to national identities in an era of increasing diversity, should we be worried about the upsurge in religious animosity in the United States, as well as Europe? Paola Mattei and Andrew Aguilar show that French society is divided along conflicts about religious identity, increasingly visible in public schools. Republicanism, based on the solidarity and secularism, is viewed by many as the cause of discrimination and unfairness against minority groups. Policies invoking laïcité are frequently criticised as a disguised form of Islamophobia. Secular Institutions, Islam, and Education Policy suggests, on the contrary, that secularism in France is a flexible concept, translated into contradictory policy programmes, and subject to varying political interpretations. This book presents original data showing how schools have become, once again, a central theatre of political action and public engagement regarding laicité, an ideal grounded in the republican origins of the public education system in France.

Author Biography

Paola Mattei is Associate Professor in Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford, UK and Fellow of St Antony's College. She has published Restructuring Welfare Organisations in Europe: From Democracy to Good Management?, University Adaptation in Difficult Economic Times and Public Accountability and Health Care Governance.

Andrew Aguilar is a France Fulbright Fellow for the 2015-2016 academic year. He also holds visiting research appointments at St Antony's College, University of Oxford, UK, and at the Center of International Studies (CERI), Sciences Po Paris, France.

Table of Contents

1. The New Challenges to the École Laïque: Integrating Islam
2. Faire l'Islam Laïc: The Makings Of French Islam
3. The French Republican School: L'école Laïque and its Historical Origins
4. Policies Towards Religion in French Public Schools, 1989-2004
5. Rising Education Inequalities In French Schools
6. The Post-2004 Ban and the Integration Of Muslim Students: The Limits of a Narrowly Legalistic Approach
7. Cultural and Religious Conflicts in the History of American Schools
8. Assimilation and Educational Achievement of Minority Groups in The United States
9. Secular Institutions between Policy and Politics

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