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Pious Legal Activism: Islam, the State and the Family
What does legal activism tell us about the way Islamic law is applied in the Middle East? Before suggesting that secularizing the legal systems of the Middle East would help alleviate women’s subordination, this talk looks at how Islamic law is defined and implemented in countries where it informs legislation. We will focus on two episodes of political activism that rocked Lebanon over recent years: one led by Sunni Muslims, the other by Shi‘i Muslims. Each of these two advocacy campaigns aimed to modify the Islamic norms enforced by judges in contemporary Lebanon. By following courses of action taken by the Sunni and Shi‘i activists, paying attention to their mistakes, failures and achievements, this talk offers a new perspective on the problem of Islamic law, and its entanglement with the legal grammar of secularism.
Jean-Michel Landry is a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University and an affiliated researcher at the Institut Français de Proche-Oriente. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016 and, in 2017, he received the award for the best dissertation from the Association of Middle East Anthropology. His work focuses on Islamic Law and the anthropological uses of critical theory. It appeared in l'Homme, Telos, the Immanent Frame and Syndicate.