This interactive seminar discusses the contemporary evolution of Islamophobia in France and in Southeast Asia. Since the 9/11 attacks in the US, anti-Islam and anti-Muslim discourses have become globally charged. This is compounded by the recent conflicts in Syria and Iraq and the acts of terrorism committed on European soil. Such developments have created a license for critics of Islam to increasingly engage in discourse and discriminatory practices that target Muslims. Today, the critics of Islam monopolize the media space in France. Recent examples include the declarations by those defending a radical militant form of laicité, and harsh criticism towards the fashion designers who produce Islamic-inspired clothing, such as the “burkini”. The discourse by the critics of Islam often overlap with the discourse by those against immigration, integration and the “banlieues”. The memories of colonization or the conflict in the Middle East then become matters of consideration too. In Southeast Asia, ethnic and religious identities are intrinsically linked. Models of governance in certain Southeast Asian countries include long-standing practices that exclude or marginalize specific ethnic minority groups, to the extent that such practices are deeply entrenched in the state institutions. Several Southeast Asian countries have seen a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments. The seminar will compare anti-Muslim sentiments in Europe and Southeast Asia with an examination of the similarities and differences in the expression of such attitudes in the two regions.
About the Speaker:
Sophie Lemière (PhD 2014) is a research fellow at the RSCAS-EUI and Professor at NYU Florence. Her research on Malaysian Politics is based on extensive field research conducted since 2006. Sophie’s area of expertise focus both on religious politics, political militancy and religion in the public sphere. Her Master thesis explored the Apostasy controversies and Islamic civil society in Malaysia, and her PhD is an original analysis of the relationship between gangs and political parties in Malaysia. Former Research Associate at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS-NTU) then affiliated Junior Researcher at the Asian Research Institute (ARI-NUS), she holds a PhD and a Master in Comparative Politics from Sciences-Po (France). Sophie is an Associate Researcher of the Middle-East Direction program at RSCAS-EUI, her research project focuses on a comparative study of complicit militancy in Malaysia and Tunisia, with an emphasis on the Islamist Movement. Sophie is currently developing several political documentaries related to her research and beyond, in an attempt to bring academic research to a larger audience.
About the Discussant:
Saleena Saleem is an Associate Research Fellow at Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She holds a M.Sc. in Political Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Saleena previously worked as a Research Associate at the Centre for Asia and Globalization, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. Her research interests include politics and religion; politics of multiculturalism and identity; and ethno-religious conflicts.