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thinking identity

This blog post is an immediate reflection on the banning of the burqa and niqab in public by the French Assemblée nationale in the wake of similar legislation in Belgium. I neither intend (in a blog post!) to justify or condemn the ban, premised as such dichotomies often are on unexamined presuppositions of what constitutes “freedom” and “oppression”, nor canvass the different material conditions, modes of being and subjectivity that may render the wearing of a veil acceptable or unacceptable in public. Drawing on the recent events in Europe as a starting point, what I do want to do is to take one step further 'back' in order to bring to the fore the presuppositions that are latent in a certain construal of that domain we have come to know as religion and/or ‘the religious’.

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Guest post by Jacinthe Flore

The peculiar experience of growing up in a postcolonial island ties you forever to your place of birth. The place where I am born holds an almost mystical, if not obsessive, fascination. I cannot stand by without some form of reaction to the ongoing political change in Mauritius. So, following Melissa’s suggestion, I ‘write it out of my system’.

Blok 104

Since independence in 1968, the Mauritian ‘Nomination Paper’ – the form used to be considered as a political candidate – includes a field where you have to specify your ‘community’. These four communities are Chinese, Muslim, Hindu and General Population. A distinct group of Mauritian civil society have ingeniously figured out that if any significant change is to take place in the country, this very practice needs to be changed.

The ‘Blok 104’, named after the 104 candidates that refused to specify their community, and whose demand to be considered candidates was denied by the Supreme Court, is composed of social and political activists, ‘intellectuals’ and youth platforms. This political activism is a very powerful tool, and represents a genuine and growing concern that (certain) Mauritians have for the future of their country. This leads to an incredibly ambitious goal: the modification of the Constitution.

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This is the blog for thinking and talking about culture, Cultural Studies and cultural analysis at the University of Sydney.
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