Past Event

Secularism, Religion, and Race: A Philosophical Critique

September 26, 2023
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
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Columbia Global Centers | Tunis

GCC Tunis is organizing, in collaboration with Le Centre d’Etudes Maghrébines à Tunis, a conference featuring Dr. Andrea Cassatella around his book Beyond The Secular: Jacques Derrida and the Theological-Political Complex. The discussant is Dr. Soumaya Mestiri, Professor of Political and Social Philosophy at the University of Tunis, Tunisia.

Join us at CGC Tunis on September 26th at 5 PM. 

Register here. 

About the Book:

Through an in-depth, critical analysis of Jacques Derrida's later writings, Beyond the Secular examines the contemporary nexus between religion and politics. Reconnecting these writings to his early works, Andrea Cassatella explores distinctive topics that are thematically linked by the theological-political problematic and theoretically informed by Derrida's relational approach to language, time, religion and politics. The result is a critical investigation into under-examined assumptions of modern secular discourse that questions its binary logics and illuminates such discourse's exclusionary character by tracing its roots in racialized understandings about language, epistemology, politics and religion that travel worldwide through global processes of assimilatory translation. By exposing the discriminatory hierarchies that the Western-Christian, sexualized, and racialized presuppositions of secular discourse keep producing and maintaining, Cassatella ultimately sheds light on the deep entanglements of secularism with the legacy of race and colonialism. 

About the Author: 

photo of author

Dr. Andrea Cassatella is a senior research fellow at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, in Kampala, Uganda. He obtained his Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from the University of Toronto. His teaching and research are in social and political philosophy broadly construed across different cultural traditions, with particular interests in modern European philosophy and political theory, decolonial/post-colonial thought, religion and politics, and Islamic political thought.

Before joining Makerere, he was lecturer in social sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough (2015-2016), and Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities at Al Quds University, Palestine (2017-2019). He also held a research fellowship at Columbia Global Centers | Amman (2019-2020), University of Cape Town (020), Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (2020), and the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa, University of Ghana (2021). He is the author of Beyond The Secular: Jacques Derrida and the Theological-Political Complex and numerous articles which appeared in such journal as Contemporary Political Theory, Philosophy and Social Criticism, Ratio Juris, and Bamidbar: Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy. Prior to his scholarly career, he served as community service officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees missions in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Djibouti.

About the Discussant: 


Dr. Soumaya Mestiri is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Tunis (FSHST, Tunisia). Her research interests focus on the history of liberalism and republicanism, theories of justice and feminism, and decolonial perspectives. 

After her studies, she was a lecturer at Pantheon-Sorbonne University, where she supported a thesis in 2003 entitled "The Conception of the Person in the Philosophy of John Rawls: Trial of Reconstruction of the Theory of Justice as Fairness," in front of a jury chaired by Emmanuel Picavet, and also including Catherine Audard and Monique Canto-Sperber. Next, she conducted her postdoctoral research at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve and, in 2005, returned to teach in Tunisia. Since 2020, she has been a visiting professor at Sciences Po-Menton (English-language campus).

Her thesis was published as a book in 2007 by the House of the Sciences of the Man and was renamed From the Individual to the Citizen: Rawls and the Problem of the Person, followed in 2009 by another book, Rawls: Justice and Fairness.

In 2016, she published Décoloniser le féminisme. Une approche transculturelle, Paris, Vrin and in 2020, Elucider l'intersectionnalité. Les raisons du féminisme noir, Paris, Vrin.