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A postcolonial genealogy of secularism and sexuality

posted by John D. Boy

A public lecture recently delivered by Saba Mahmood at the London School of Economics entitled “Secularism, Religion and Sexuality: A Postcolonial Genealogy” is now available as an audio podcast. In the lecture, Mahmood examines the relationship between the postcolonial state and conceptions of sexuality and religion in South Asia and the Middle East:

The relegation of religion and sexual reproduction to the private sphere is widely regarded as a key feature of modern secular societies. While postcolonial states of South Asia and the Middle East are heir to this arrangement, they are also distinct in that they retain religious laws for the regulation of family affairs. As a result, both minority and majority religious communities of these postcolonial polities continue to exert a fair degree of judicial autonomy over family affairs based on their religious traditions. Professor Mahmood’s talk tries to rethink the classical debate around “family law” and “minority rights” by parsing out the contradictions that attend the public-private distinction institutionalized by the modern state, particularly the complex intertwining of gender, sexuality and religion.

Listen to the lecture here.

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