Ever since the violence on New Years Eve 2015 in Cologne, Germany, Arabs and African Muslims have been portrayed as sexual predators undeserving of refugee status, but does the research in today's Muslim communities in France bear that out? Author Mehammed Mack will first explain the deeper history of the French sexual demonization of Arabs and Muslims, going back to episodes in the early 2000s, the 1960s, and colonial Algeria. He’ll then review the major scholars working on gender and race in France who have researched the interplay between the sexual portrait of minorities in France and nationalist politics. The stereotypes of the “Fatma” (Arab housekeeper), the “racaille” or banlieue “thug,” and the silent/passive veiled woman will be unpacked. He’ll also discuss Muslim and banlieue women’s upward mobility in terms of education, mixed marriages, and class, while also acknowledging the obstacles highly qualified Muslim women face on the job market when wearing the veil. He will finally talk about how nearly all mainstream representations of banlieue and Muslim populations (both male and female) ignore historic gender fluidities that complicate the picture of macho men and passive women.
About the Instructor: Mehammed Amadeus Mack (Associate Professor of French Studies, Program Member in the Study for Women and Gender at Smith College) earned his doctorate in French and comparative literature from Columbia University. His first book, Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture, was published in 2017.
Mack's research focuses on contemporary immigration to France, gender and sexuality, diversity in the banlieues, and the relation between culture and politics. His larger teaching and research interests include Franco-Arab cultures, travel literature, the development of French Islam and media studies. He has published articles in the in a number of magazines including Newsweek and Al Jazeera English.
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