Does laïcité translate to the American classroom?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay reflects on the relevance of French laïcité for the American college classroom. It begins with a discussion of philosopher Catherine Kintzler’s radical interpretation of laïcité as a theory of political association that takes the classroom as its model. According to this view, the autonomous learning contingent on doubt and self-correction that ideally occurs there is the basis for an egalitarian and collaborative production of knowledge, a model of a res publica. The essay then turns to legal scholar and philosopher Anthony Kronman’s analysis of classroom conversation and the “ethics of depersonalization.” It considers the extent to which these notions can be viewed as American translations of Kintzler’s laïcité. The essay concludes with a reading of American essayist Ta-Nehisi Coates’s bestselling 2015 memoir as an endorsement of the autonomous abstract individual, the linchpin of republican universalism, laïcité, and liberal education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)439-4461
Number of pages4023
JournalContemporary French Civilization
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Liverpool University Press. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • History


Dive into the research topics of 'Does laïcité translate to the American classroom?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this