'A Storm on the Horizon': Discomforting Democracy and the Feeling of Fairness

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Ann Pellegrini


This essay examines an ‘anti-Shariah’ law passed by voters in the US state of Oklahoma in 2010, alongside contemporaneous controversies over the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ in New York City. In both these cases, the terms of debate framed American Muslims as outsiders and, even, threats to the nation. Together, these two case studies reveal the religious traces that mark even ostensibly secular debates over democratic belonging. They also reveal the failures of liberal ‘tolerance’ and ideals of ‘reasonableness’ to make room for wider forms of social difference.

Article Details

Secular Discomforts: Religion and Cultural Studies (Peer Reviewed)
Author Biography

Ann Pellegrini, New York University

Ann Pellegrini is Associate Professor of Performance Studies and Religious Studies at New York University, where she also directs NYU's Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality.   She is the author of Performance Anxieties: Staging Psychoanalysis, Staging Race (1997); Love the Sin: Sexual Regulation and the Limits of Religious Tolerance, co-authored with Janet R. Jakobsen (2004); Queer Theory and the Jewish Question, co-edited with Daniel Boyarin and Daniel Itzkovitz (2003); and Secularisms, co-edited with Janet R. Jakobsen (2008). She is currently completing two new projects: a solo book, Excess & Enchantment: Queer Performance between the Religious and the Secular, and You Can Tell Just by Looking and Twenty Other Myths about LBGT Life and People, co-authored with Michael Amico and Michael Bronski.