I noticed that the link to my abstract on the NCUR 2013 web site no longer worked so I went on a search…
I found the abstract on the NCUR web site and opted to copy it so it survives.
I presented at NCUR my final year at Lafayette. The introduction to my thesis is listed under academic writing on this site.
CIVILIZING MUSLIMS: HOW THE FRENCH PERPETUATE ALGERIAN COLONIALISM IN THEIR FIGHT AGAINST THE VEIL
Angel Ackerman, (Angelika von Wahl) International Affairs, Lafayette College, Easton, PA
France today struggles with the presence of a highly visible and growing Muslim population in a society that considers public secularism a founding institution. Many Muslims in France today have roots in colonial Algeria. Without the rise of Algerian nationalism and the subsequent war that led to Algerian decolonization in 1962, the Fifth Republic would not exist as it does today.
Many scholars have criticized and studied whether or not France should integrate Islam into its society better, but fewer people have studied how French colonial-based stereotypes proclaiming the inferiority of Muslim Arabs linger in the treatment of Muslims in France today. The treatment of colonial Algerians, particularly the denial of equal citizenship because of their religion, provides an interesting case study that can be compared to a contemporary case, the attempt to strip Muslim women of their right to wear the veil.
French efforts to legislate whether or not women can wear traditional Muslim veils serve as a continuation of the “civilizing mission” undertaken in the Algerian colony. Using a variety of French language and English language primary and secondary sources, this project looks at the intersection of citizenship and religion from the 18th through 21st centuries.
Chapter One establishes the roots of laicite and the persecution of the Catholic Church after the 1789 revolution. Chapter two explores the role of religion in the colonization of Algeria, the creation of stereotypes of the inferior Arab, and how religion led to the denial of citizenship to the indigenous Muslims. Chapter three chronicles the rise of Algerian nationalism, the war of “liberation” and how the various French populations interacted with the Algerians. The fourth chapter takes the stereotypes of the colonial era and shows how Fifth Republic France has perpetuated these ideas of the Arab Muslim as an inferior that still needs to be civilized. The final chapter offers political theory covers what it means to wear the veil in France.