The politics of recognition remains a common way to articulate and adjudicate minorities’ claims, yet, as a number of scholars have argued, calling on the state for redress serves to secure the state’s sovereignty. Drawing on Muslim French activism in France, the author suggests that this structure of sovereignty, premised on the adjudication of minority demands (for equality, for recognition), might also be the condition of possibility for its disruption, and even for new political arrangements to emerge. Indeed, a number of Muslim French now reject the paradigm of difference and claim instead their right to indifference. Some call for indifference from the state, others call for indifference to the state. The author asks: Is there a way to achieve religious equality without addressing the state? Or might indifference entail communal withdrawal, abandoning the ideal of equality and other conventional secular-liberal politics?
State Sovereignty and the Politics of Indifference
Mayanthi Fernando is associate professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research interests include Islam, secularism, gender/sexuality, and liberal governance. Her first book, The Republic Unsettled: Muslim French and the Contradictions of Secularism (2014), examines the political regulation of religion in France. She is currently working on two new projects, one on the secularity of posthumanism, another on the surveillance of Muslim intimacies in Europe.
Mayanthi L. Fernando; State Sovereignty and the Politics of Indifference. Public Culture 1 May 2019; 31 (2): 261–273. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-7286813
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