Regulating Sex/Religion

Our studio aimed to examine how sex and religion are mobilized together in the management of minorities in Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia. Rather than take for granted the secular narrative of sexual and religious life as private, we sought to analyze how secular rule is actually subtended by the twinned regulation of religion and sexuality, and how the public/private boundary that ostensibly undergirds secularity and guarantees both religious freedom and sexual freedom hinges on the management by the secular state of religious and sexual communities.

During the first year, the studio focused largely on the intersection of secular law, governmentality, and the regulation of religious communities. We also took up the matter (quite literally) of the archive itself, a primary object of observation for many of us working on colonialism and the law. We problematized not only the taken-for-granted nature of the archive as a repository of empirical knowledge but also our own attachments to recovering the repressed or secret histories of minoritized and/or marginalized groups. During the second year, we moved to considerations of secularity through its embodied, sensorial, and affective dimensions, trying to map some of the coordinates of what might be called the secular body (including its gendered and sexual protocols). We explored the idea that, like forms of religiosity, secularity too includes a range of ethical, social, and physical dispositions, hence the need to apprehend the secular via its sensorial and affective dimensions and not only its political and legal ones.

For more information, please see the Studio’s site.