Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture

Mehammed Mack will give a talk on his recently published book, Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture. “Engaging the nexus of race, gender, nation, and sexuality, Sexagon studies the broad politicization of Franco-Arab identity in the context of French culture and its assumptions about appropriate modes of sexual and gender expression, both gay and straight” [Fordham Univ. Press].

Thursday, October 5 at 7:00pm to 8:15pm | Sawyer Library, Mabie Rm.


Sexagon book coverIn contemporary France, particularly in the banlieues of Paris, the figure of the young, virile, hypermasculine Muslim looms large. So large, in fact, it often supersedes liberal secular society’s understanding of gender and sexuality altogether. Engaging the nexus of race, gender, nation, and sexuality, Sexagon studies the broad politicization of Franco-Arab identity in the context of French culture and its assumptions about appropriate modes of sexual and gender expression, both gay and straight.

Official French culture, as Mack suggests, has judged the integration of Muslim immigrants from North and West Africa—as well as their French descendants—according to their presumed attitudes about gender and sexuality. More precisely, Mack argues, the frustrations consistently expressed by the French establishment in the face of the alleged Muslim refusal to assimilate is not only symptomatic of anxieties regarding changes to a “familiar” France but also indicative of an unacknowledged preoccupation with what Mack identifies as the “virility cultures” of Franco-Arabs, rendering Muslim youth as both sexualized objects and unruly subjects.”

Eric Fassin, renowned French sociologist, has described Mack’s work as an “original, rich, and precise contribution to a growing field of studies focuses on the multiplicity of cultural representations that both reflect and produce postcolonial France as a kaleidoscope of sexual obsessions – a ‘sexagon.'”

* Sponsored by Arabic Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, French, Center for Foreign Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

About Dr. Mack

Mehammed Amadeus MackMehammed Mack is Assistant Professor of French Studies at Smith College. Mack’s research focuses on contemporary immigration to France, gender and sexuality, diversity in the banlieues, and the relation between culture and politics. His larger teaching and research interests include Franco-Arab cultures, travel literature, the development French Islam and media studies. He has published articles in the Journal of Arabic Literature; Comparative Literature Studies; Hétérographes; Jadaliyya; Al Jazeera English; Contretemps, The Funambulist, and Newsweek.