Disaffiliation, Dis-identification, Disavowal: (Ex-)Muslims and Public Apostasy from Islam in Francophone Culture and Politics

Disaffiliation, Dis-identification, Disavowal: (Ex-)Muslims and Public Apostasy from Islam in Francophone Culture and Politics
5 April 2019, 2.00pm - 6 April 2019, 5.15pm
Conference / Symposium
Room 246, Second Floor, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Keynote speakers: Salim Bachi and Daniel Enstedt (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)

In recent years, the phenomenon of apostasy from Islam has become increasingly politicized. The intense polarization around apostasy in Islam - and the consequently high political stakes involved in representing apostasy and apostates - is perhaps one reason why there is a dearth of scholarship, across disciplines, on the socio-political and cultural aspects of apostasy from Islam, especially from an on-the-ground, lived-experience perspective. Thus, while scholars have extensively examined the works and lives of numerous Francophone cultural figures of Muslim heritage, such as writers Salim Bachi, Boualem Sansal, and Rachid Boudjedra,they have neglected to consider these individuals’ public dis-identification and disaffiliation from - and/or disavowal of Islam. 

This symposium seeks to address this lacuna by (re-)examining the works and lives of Muslim-heritage Francophone public figures - be they writers, actors, singers, filmmakers, politicians, or individuals - in light of their public apostasy, within the broader polarized and politicized context surrounding ‘ex-Muslims’ and the phenomenon of apostasy from Islam.


Friday 5 April (Room 246)

14:00 Registration

14:30 Panel 1: Representations of apostasy in literature and film
Chair: Adi Bharat (University of Manchester)

Natalie Khaazal (Texas A&M)
Mohamed Choukri: Resisting ideological appropriation and the poetics of apostasy
Rebekah Vince (University of Warwick)
Un musulman de mauvaise foi ? Slimane Benaissa’s Confessions 
Fraser McQueen (University of Stirling)
The ‘Ex-musulman’ and the ‘Musulman Laïc’ in Contemporary French Literature and Film

16:00 Coffee break

16:15 Panel 2: The ASMCF Panel: Entre l’antiracisme et l’islam : vers une sociologie de l’islam en France
Chair: Joseph Ford
Houssame Bentabet (PSL Research University / EHESS, Paris)
L’Abandon de l’islam : De l’irréligiosité au reniement de la foi chez les musulmans en France
Nedjib Sidi Moussa (Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique, CNRS, Paris)
Une apostasie impensable ? De la lutte anticoloniale à l’antiracisme « politique » : retour sur une problématique marginalisée dans l’espace franco-algérien

17:15 Keynote Session 1: Daniel Enstedt (University of Gothenburg, Sweden)
Chair: Joe Ford (IMLR, School of Advanced Study)
Leaving Islam in contemporary Sweden: Taking lived religion, materiality and the use of nonfiction in autobiographical narratives into account in apostasy studies

18:15 Drinks reception

19:30 Conference dinner

Saturday 6 April (Room 243)

09:30 Panel 1: Islam and Race in France and beyond: socio-political perspectives     
Chair: Nick Harrison (KCL)
Fabrice Roger (University of Bristol)
‘Losing my religion’: is the quintessential enlightened Muslim an apostate? An analysis of Mohammed Sifaoui’s representation of Islam in Mes « frères » assassins
Alice Bullard (Initiative for the Resurgent Abolition Initiative – USA) 
When Advocating Racial Equality Merits Conviction for 
Apostasy and Execution: The Writing of Mohamed Cheikh Mkhaitir in Mauritania
Chris Jardine (University of Edinburgh)
Islam and laïcité : La nouvelle guerre des deux France

11:00 Coffee break

11:30 Panel 2: Literature, apostasy and the political 
Chair: Jane Hiddleston (Exeter College, University of Oxford)
Sura Qadiri (St. Catherine’s College, University of Cambridge)
Abdelwahab Meddeb: Apostate or Reformer?
Max Silverman (University of Leeds)
Apostasy and literary transgression
Nick Harrison (KCL)
Secular apostates

13:00 Lunch (Room 234)

14:00 Panel 3: Apostasy and ‘ex-Muslims’ beyond France
Chair: Max Silverman (University of Leeds)
Adi Bharat (University of Manchester)
Between ‘Race’ and Religion: Ex-Muslims and the Politics of Apostasy in Singapore
Laura Thompson (Harvard University)
Coffee shops, Art, TVs and Toilets : Post-Arab-Spring and Pre-Independence Blasphemy Cases against Tunisian Muslims 
Zainab Salloo (University of Manchester)
Exploring British ex-Muslim narratives through ‘confessional-style’ Youtube videos

15:30 Coffee break

16:00 Keynote Session 2: Q & A and Roundtable with Salim Bachi
Chair: Adi Bharat (University of Manchester)
Discussants: Nick Harrison, Jane Hiddleston & Sura Qadiri

17:15  Closing remarks

Convenors: Joseph Ford (University of London/IMLR) and Adi Bharat (University of Manchester)

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Supported by the Cassal Endowment Fund, artsmethods@manchester, Durham University, and the Society for French Studies 

Advanced registration required by 29 March 2019

Standard one day £7 | Standard both days £10 | Students/Unwaged Free

Statement regarding ongoing protests at Senate House


Jenny Stubbs
020 7862 8832