Muslims in France: Identifying a discriminatory equilibrium

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Speaker: Prof. David Laitin, Stanford University
Date: Thursday 28 February 2013
Time: 6-8 pm
Location: New Theatre, East Building
Chair: TBC

We analyze the assimilation patterns of Muslim immigrants in Western countries with a unique identification strategy. Survey and experimental data collected in France in 2009 reveal that Muslims and rooted French are locked in a sub-optimal equilibrium whereby (i) rooted French exhibit taste-based discrimination against those they are able to identify as Muslims and (ii) Muslims perceive French institutions as systematically discriminatory against them. This equilibrium is sustained because Muslims, perceiving discrimination as institutionalized, are reluctant to assimilate and rooted French, who are able to identify Muslims as such due to their lower assimilation, reveal their distaste for Muslims.

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Speaker biography

David D. Laitin is the James T. Watkins IV and Elise V. Watkins Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. He received his BA from Swarthmore College, and then served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia and Grenada. He received his Ph.D. in political science from UC Berkeley. Before his research project on Islam in France, he conducted field research in Somalia, Yorubaland (Nigeria), Catalonia (Spain) and Estonia, focusing on issues of language and religion, and how these cultural phenomena link nation to state. His books include Politics, Language and Thought: The Somali Experience, Hegemony and Culture: Politics and Religious Change among the Yoruba , Language Repertoires and State Construction in Africa , Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad , and Nations, States and Violence. In collaboration with James Fearon, he has published several papers on ethnicity, ethnic cooperation, the sources of civil war, and on policies that work to settle civil wars.  He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences.