Secularism, religion, feminism, politics, public sphere, Muslim feminism
The renewed vitality of religion in political and public life has prompted reconsideration of established ideas about secularisation and secularism. In Western Europe, ethnocentric enforcements of secularism are implicated in oppressive practices directed at minority women and communities while religiously-justified authoritarian movements against rights for women and LGBTQ people continue to emerge. These ‘postsecular’ challenges require recasting secular thinking within a wider re-theorisation of emancipatory feminist practice. This means recognising the positivity of religious subjectivities and norms in emancipatory political projects. It also entails rethinking the nature of the secular state and challenging oppressions emanating from enforced secularism no less than from coerced conformity to religious norms. The Musawah Framework for Action advanced by the Malaysian advocacy group Sisters in Islam is discussed to illustrate how secular thinking can be recast for emancipatory feminist practice to transform narrow Eurocentric accounts of secularism and patriarchal interpretations of secular and religious norms.