Pascale Fournier: Reframing Secularist Premises: Divorce Among Traditionalist Muslim and Jewish Women Within the Secular State
While theoretical analyses of secularization abound, we lack ethnographic observations of how secularization actually affects citizens in secular states – especially when those citizens are religious women. This observation pushed 2003 Foundation scholar Pascale Fournier and co-author Jacques Berlinerblau to publish an ethnography of traditionalist Jewish and Muslim women seeking divorce in Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Published in Secularism and Nonreligion on 22 March 2018, “Reframing Secularist Premises: Divorce Among Traditionalist Muslim and Jewish Women Within the Secular State” shows how traditionalist religious women attempting to dissolve their marriage in a secularist legal environment must grapple with “dual navigation”: they must negotiate both the secular state’s and their faith communities’ demands and legal systems. Fournier and her co-author also challenge assumptions that religious women’s “cheap-settling” behaviour reflects passivity and submission to religious demands, instead arguing that these decisions showcase women’s agency and rational decision-making under difficult circumstances.
Pascale Fournier is a 2003 Foundation scholar, a full professor in the Civil Law section at the University of Ottawa, and a commissioner on the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission. Read her article here.