“Islamo-Leftism”: hobby horse of the ideologues of French universalism

Florent Villard, Gregory B Lee

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


The recent and intense attacks on what has been labelled Islamo-leftism, Islamo-gauchisme in the original, is the French iteration of a more global attack on “woke leftism”, or specifically critical race theory, gender studies and postcolonialism, summarized by France’s President Macron as the threat of “certain social science theories from the United States”.
The academic tendencies targeted by this conservative offensive are thematically, methodologically and disciplinarily diverse. Their common factor lies in an ambition to interrogate and critique discursive, historical and social mechanisms that participate in the preservation of discrimination based on gender, “race” and class in contemporary societies. These academics are committed to a critical procedure that aims to unmask practices, imaginaries and categories of language which perpetuate mechanisms of domination by assigning individuals to fixed identities within intangible borders.
Paradoxically, anti-decolonialists and the defenders of supposed Republican purity turn the world on its head when they tax the so-called “Islamo-leftists” with racism and identitarianism, but who in reality merely point to the deficiencies of a universalism long tinged with cultural and racist ethnocentrism. Indeed, it is precisely those accused of “Islamo-leftism” who aspire to an equality that respects cultural and historical differences, and at the same time promotes a renewed vision of universal human rights.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationPostcolonial Politics
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jul 2021


  • France
  • Decoloniality
  • Postcolonialism
  • Cultural studies
  • Academic freedom


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