by Margarita Mooney Suarez on August 10, 2010

The May volume of the American Sociological Association’s journal of book reviews, Contemporary Sociology, published my review of Raphael Lioger’s book ” ‘Legitimate’ Laicite: France and its State Religions” (Paris: Entrelacs, 2006). Liogier heads the World Religion Watch at the French University Sciences Po in Aix-en-Provence, France, which aims to spark dialogue between French and English speaking scholars of religion, such as by translating works from French to English and vice-versa. Click here to read about Liogier’s work, much of which has been published in French. As he writes more in English and presents his work to English-speaking audiences, I hope my book review sparks a wide audience for his work.

A selection of the book review is below. Please click here to see the full review (for subscribers to Contemporary Sociology) or email me for the full review (for non-subscribers).

Raphaël Liogier’s book is a provocative argument about French discourse and practice regarding laïcité, a term generally translated as secularism. Liogier correctly points out that scholars should interrogate how well actual practices reflect the discourse and common understandings of terms such as secularism and laïcité. Liogier makes a powerful and convincing argument that French laïcité is notwhat many inside and outside of France believe it to be, the separation of church and state, but rather an organized and hierarchical system of state intervention in religion.