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‘Unveiling the Nation’: Book Launch & Discussion with Emily Laxer

You are invited to celebrate the publication of Emily Laxer’s book Unveiling the Nation. The Politics of Secularism in France and Quebec, on Tuesday April 23rd at 4 p.m. in YH A 304 on Glendon campus.
A presentation of the book (in French and English) will be followed by a discussion and a reception.
RSVP by April 16 at
The event is sponsored by the Research Group sur le Canada francophone, Francophile et en français.
The author :
Emily Laxer is a Sociologist specializing in political sociology; immigration; citizenship and nationalism; and gender. Her research broadly examines how contests for political power shape the incorporation of ethno-religious minorities in largescale immigration countries. In a current study, she focuses on the impact of party-political debates over Islamic religious coverings in shaping the boundaries of nationhood in France and Québec. Her work has been published in such peer-reviewed journals as Ethnic & Racial Studies, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, Nations & Nationalism, and Comparative Studies in Society and History.
The book :
Over the last few decades, politicians in Europe and North America have fiercely debated the effects of a growing Muslim minority on their respective national identities. Some of these countries have prohibited Islamic religious coverings in public spaces and institutions, while in others, legal restriction remains subject to intense political conflict. Seeking to understand these different outcomes, social scientists have focused on the role of countries’ historically rooted models of nationhood and their attendant discourses of secularism. Emily Laxer’s Unveiling the Nation problematizes this approach. Using France and Quebec as illustrative cases, she traces how the struggle of political parties for power and legitimacy shapes states’ responses to Islamic signs. Drawing on historical evidence and behind-the-scenes interviews with politicians and activists, Laxer uncovers unseen links between structures of partisan conflict and the strategies that political actors employ when articulating the secular boundaries of the nation. In France’s historically class-based political system, she demonstrates, parties on the left and the right have converged around a restrictive secular agenda in order to limit the siphoning of votes by the ultra-right. In Quebec, by contrast, the longstanding electoral salience of the “national question” has encouraged political actors to project highly conflicting images of the province’s secular past, present, and future. At a moment of heightened debate in the global politics of religious diversity, Laxer’s Unveiling the Nation sheds critical light on the way party politics and its related instabilities shape the secular boundaries of nationhood in diverse societies.


Apr 23 2019


4:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Glendon Campus, York University @ 2275 Bayview Ave., Room YH A-304
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