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Joan W. Scott


More on Laïcité in Historical Context

[Image from the cover of Joan W. Scott,

[This is the first of three responses to Muriam Haleh Davis’ review essay of books by Joan W. Scott, Naomi Davidson, and Mayanthi Fernando. For Naomi Davidson's response, "The Vagaries of Laïcité," click here.] I find Muriam Haleh Davis’ commentary on Charlie Hebdo and French secularism (by way of a review of three books, one of which is mine) to be clear and to the point. Davis insists on the importance of placing in historical context the paradoxical claim that ...

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Joan W. Scott


Joan W. Scott is Professor Emerita in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study and an adjunct professor of history at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her work has challenged the foundations of conventional historical practice, including the nature of historical evidence and historical experience. Drawing on a range of philosophical thought, as well as on a rethinking of her own training as a labor historian, she has contributed to the formulation of a field of critical history. Written thirty years ago, her now classic article, "Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis," continues to inspire innovative research on women and gender. Her latest work has been concerned with the ways in which difference poses problems for democratic practice. Her study of the controversy over the passage of the French law banning headscarves in public schools, The Politics of the Veil (Princeton, 2007), looks at the issues surrounding Muslims in France in historical perspective. She is a founding editor of History of the Present: A Journal of Critical History.