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Title:Ideological straitjacket or irreplaceable principle of democracy? Reflections on the French debates about 'la´citÚ' and the questions they raise for South African social scientists
Author:Kros, CynthiaISNI
Periodical:South African Historical Journal
Geographic terms:France
South Africa
External link:https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/02582470802635695
Abstract:'La´citÚ', a particular product of French history and philosophy, is usually represented as having been formalised in the 1905 law providing for the separation of Church and State, that is, the separation of religion from political power. But, the concept of removing religion to the private space as opposed to the public space of politics and the civil sphere is currently fiercely contested, driven in particular by reactions to various manifestations of Islam. This article surveys major debates under the provocative image of 'la´citÚ' as 'ideological straitjacket' provided by Manuel Valls, the left-wing mayor of the 'new' town of ╔vry, outside Paris, France. The article probes anxiety about Islam, and assumptions that it is inherently threatening, not only to 'la´citÚ', but to the very democracy upon which the republic is founded. Valls speculates that some of the government's recent conciliatory gestures to Islam may be symptoms of France's 'bad conscience' about its colonial and slaving history, the Algerian 'trauma' and the recognition that immigrants, especially from outside of Europe, are not being effectively integrated into French society. The ultimate question is: can a new history of 'light and shadow' be written into the meaning of the republic? The article is intended to prompt questions about the future of history in South Africa too. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]