Re-casting local laïcité: the local governance of religious diversity in France 

Julia Martínez-Ariño

- completed -

The overall question of this project is how French cities respond to ethno-religious diversification. How are French secularism and color-blind republicanism being re-shaped and re-fashioned at the local level? In particular, Julia investigates the incorporation of diversity (in her case, mainly through, but not limited to, religious organizations) into local governance. More precisely, the research focuses on four main aspects of the local governance of religious diversity: (1) faith involvement in local governance. To what extent are religious groups and organizations considered legitimate partners in the local governance of urban diversity in French cities? (2) 'Policy instruments‘ for the governance of (religious) diversity. What public policy instruments do local actors use in responding to urban (religious) diversity? Why do cities adopt these specific policy tools? (3) The local (re-)definition of membership of the nation. How are the boundaries of the membership of the nation being reshaped at the local level? How are ethnic and religious dissimilarities being played out in these contexts? What are the narratives and discursive formations that drive, and result from, cities’ responses to diversity? (4) (Religious) minorities’ claim-making. Are minority groups able to mobilize and assert their claims to local policy-making through their participation in governance networks? Methodologically, Julia adopts a mixed-methods approach, combining in-depth interviews with observations and network analysis, in three medium-sized cities in France. .

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