In the recent past, anti-Muslim hate crimes and rhetoric have surged across America and Europe. Much of this public discourse revolves around questions of assimilation and where Muslim positions on sexuality and gender fit into national unity. In Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture
(Fordham University Press, 2017), Mehammed Amadeus Mack
, Assistant Professor of French Studies at Smith College, explores the politicization of Muslim minority sexuality in France in various cultural domains. Whether in literature, journalistic media, or activist endeavors the general portrayal of Muslims in these contexts is structured around unmodern attitudes towards sexuality. It is assumed that African and Arab minorities in France are regressive, patriarchal, and intolerant of homosexuality. Through his study of a number of cultural arenas of representation Mack demonstrates that sexual identities are often unclear, hidden, or in flux. In our conversation we discussed sexuality and French identity, aspects of non-gendered virility, homosexual clandestinity and the possibility of queer identities, girl gangs, psychoanalysis and Islam, the literary trope of the Arab Boy, cinematic representations of ethnic sexualities, the management and surveillance of sexuality, the role of pornography in the sexualization of Muslims, gay-interest publications, the continued sexual demonization of Muslims in the current social climate in France and Europe, and the literary production of Eurabia.
Kristian Petersen is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He is the author of Interpreting Islam in China: Pilgrimage, Scripture, and Language in the Han Kitab (Oxford University Press, 2017). He is currently working on a monograph entitled
The Cinematic Lives of Muslims, and is the editor of the forthcoming volumes
Muslims in the Movies: A Global Anthology (ILEX Foundation) and
New Approaches to Islam in Film (Routledge). You can find out more about his work on his website, follow him on Twitter @BabaKristian, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.