Politics of laïcité in France : The republican project under pressure (2004-2015)-Dr Stephanie Hennette Vauchez (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense)
02 Feb 2016, 1pm | Senior Common Room, Law Faculty, Oxford University

Over the past decade, the legal principle of laïcité [secularism] has undergone radical changes. Initially a principle that guaranteed individual religious freedom and generated obligations of neutrality for public authorities only, it has evolved into a legal ground for curtailing the former and generating the latter for private individuals as well. Hence the multiplication of situations in which individuals are legally compelled to renounce the expression of religious beliefs (at school, at work, in the public space). Thus redefined, laïcité disproportionately is opposed to Muslim women. The talk will seek to explain the ways in which such a subversion of the republican ideal of laïcité has occurred, and question the compatibility of the current state of affairs with constitutional and European law. Finally, it will also offer some theoretical insights as to the stakes associated with the articulation of the French contemporary regime of laïcitéwith notions of liberalism and equality.

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Stéphanie Hennette Vauchez
A graduate from the Institut d’Etudes Politiques (Sciences Po) in Paris, Stéphanie Hennette-Vauchez holds a law degree (DEA Droit public comparé) and a PhD from Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. After a post-doctoral year at Northwestern University in Chicago as a Fulbright Scholar, she was appointed as an Assistant Professor (maître de conferences, 2001) at Paris I-Sorbonne, and then as a full professor (Professeur agrégé) at University Paris 12 Créteil (2002-2007) and now at University Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense (since 2010). From 2007 to 2010, she was a Marie Curie Fellow (7th Framework Program of the European Union) at the Robert Schuman Center of the European University Institute in Florence. At Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, Hennette-Vauchez teaches Human Rights law and Legal theory, and is the head of the Master’s Degree in Human Rights Law.