Distance and Social Ties in the « Burqa Affair »: Spatial Arrangements and Regimes of Visibility

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Abstract : This study develops a semiotics analysis of the « burqa affair » on French national press and observes how this public debate interrogates the problematic of the distance (physical, social and symbolical) between the secular and religious subjects in view of the question of social ties (recognition and appreciation). The analysis of the prohibitionist discourse in such debate brings into light the importance of the face in the republican conception of social ties and the primacy of the figure of transparency inside republican regime of visibility. This republican translation of the social cohesion configures a spatial problematic since it generates a semiotic process that redefines the concept of “public space” and consecrate it in the terms of 2010 law. The reconfiguration of distance that results from the mediatisation of the “burqa affair” carries, in return, some significant effects over the practical and symbolical modalities of social ties, notably the relation between oneself and the others, and raises important questionings about the meaning of contemporary public spaces and places.
Original languageFrench
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Burqa affair
  • Public space
  • Visibility
  • Distance
  • Social ties

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