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G I TAYLOR LECTURE - Fluctuations in the life of a cell: maintaining order amidst disorder

The G I Taylor Lecture by Professor Vikram Deshpande, of the Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge.

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Law, Secularism and Gender: Voices from the field

Fri 9 March

Faculty of Law

The past few decades have witnessed a significant increase in scholarly attention to the subject of the interaction between secular law and religious norms. From the regulation of Muslim women’s bodies to the recognition of religious family law, much of the debate in the West has centered on the appropriateness of state intervention in intersecting and contested cultural and legal spaces. A dichotomous view of the relationship between religious law and secular law permeates the debates across the varied positions along the political spectrum. Those who perceive religion as a form of oppression towards women envision secular law as capable of ensuring gender equality. On the other hand, those who advocate the legitimacy of religion law claim that women use religious narrative as a form of identity and that this private and parallel sphere of normative expression should be respected as such in a multicultural state.

Drawing on her field research in the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Canada, Dr. Pascale Fournier’s conference will assess different models of secularism that are developing in the Western world and explore patterns of women’s agency, religious critique, and navigation of parallel civil and religious structures. In doing so, Dr. Fournier will insist on the lived experiences of religious women as narrated by religious women interviewed in the context of her field research, in the hopes of contributing to a broader dialogue on the integration of minorities through recognition of their distinct religious normative orders.

Pascale Fournier is Full Professor in the Faculty of Law (Civil Law Section) at the University of Ottawa in Canada and a member of the Barreau du Québec, which awarded her the Advocatus Emeritus (Ad. E.) distinction in 2009. In 2014, the National Assembly of Quebec appointed her as Commissioner to the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission (CDPDJ). As the Research Chair in Legal Pluralism and Comparative Law, Pascale is affiliated with several research centres: the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at Saint Mary’s College (University of Saint Andrews, Scotland), the “Religion and Diversity Project” at the University of Ottawa, the Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child at the University of Ottawa (IRLRC), the Centre for Research in Public Law at the Université de Montréal and the Centre for Research in Ethics at the Université de Montréal. She teaches Rights and Freedoms, Comparative Family Law and Critical Approaches to Law. She has acted as Associate Dean Research from 2010 to 2012. Professor Fournier received her LL.B from Laval University (1997), her master’s degree from the University of Toronto (LL.M.; 2000) and her doctoral degree from Harvard Law School (S.J.D.; 2007). A Fulbright and Trudeau scholar, she also served as Law Clerk to the Honourable Justice Claire L’Heureux-Dubé at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2000-2001.

Cost: 0

Ages: Adults

Enquiries and booking

Enquiries: Markus Gehring Email: mwg24@cam.ac.uk


All times

Fri 9 March 11:00AM - 12:30PM


Address: Faculty of Law
Sidgwick Site,
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Email: enquiries@law.cam.ac.uk
Telephone: +44 1223 330033
Fax: +44 1223 330055