6:00 PM–8:00 PM MAISON FRANCAISE EAST GALLERY
Judith Surkis, in conversation with Stephanie McCurry, Karuna Mantena, and Emmanuelle Saada, moderated by Camille Robcis
This event is cancelled, as are other upcoming public events at the Columbia Maison Francaise.
As a precautionary measure in response to the coronavirus, Columbia University has asked its centers to cancel or postpone public events on campus. We will post information on our website when public events can be resumed.
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During more than a century of colonial rule over Algeria, the French state shaped and reshaped the meaning and practice of Muslim law by regulating it and circumscribing it to the domain of family law, while applying the French Civil Code to appropriate the property of Algerians. In Sex, Law, and Sovereignty in French Algeria, 1830–1930, Judith Surkis traces how colonial authorities constructed Muslim legal difference and used it to deny Algerian Muslims full citizenship. In disconnecting Muslim law from property rights, French officials increasingly attached it to the bodies, beliefs, and personhood. Surkis argues that powerful affective attachments to the intimate life of the family and fantasies about Algerian women and the sexual prerogatives of Muslim men, supposedly codified in the practices of polygamy and child marriage, shaped French theories and regulatory practices of Muslim law in fundamental and lasting ways. This sweeping legal genealogy of French Algeria elucidates how "the Muslim question" in France became—and remains—a question of sex.
Judith Surkis is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University. She is the author of Sex, Law, and Sovereignty in French Algeria, 1830-1930 (Cornell, 2019), Sexing the Citizen: Morality and Masculinity in France, 1870-1920 (Cornell, 2006), and is currently working on a project, The Intimate Life of International Law: Childhood, Development, and Decolonization.
Event co-sponsored by the NYC Consortium for Intellectual & Cultural History and the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality.