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Kaisa Vuoristo, PhD

Kaisa Vuoristo, PhD


Republicanism Recast: How the "Veil Affairs" Transformed French Republican Ideology and Public Discourse (2004–2014)

(Supervisors: Jane Jenson, Montréal / Ursula Lehmkuhl, Trier)

Since the law of 2004 prohibiting the wearing of "conspicuous" religious symbols in public schools, a gradual development has taken place in France. From the law banning full-face covering in public space (2010) to various measures concerning the parents of students (2012) and the employees of private nurseries (2014), women wearing the Islamic headscarf have been excluded from different spheres of public life. The debates surrounding these measures revolve around the idea of defending or reinforcing republican values. Through which political – including discursive – processes did the public promotion of republican values come to signify the exclusion of headscarf-wearing Muslim women from public spaces?

My research tackles this question by employing a conceptual and discursive approach to the study of political ideologies. More specifically, by anchoring my analysis in the public discourses surrounding four so-called "veil affairs," my research sheds light on the gradual transformation of French republican ideology – a complex construct through which political concepts gain meaning. Drawing on a large corpus of empirical data, my analysis demonstrates that the conceptual proximity of public secularism (laïcité) and gender equality – which was formalized in the 2004 law – has resulted in changes within the republican-ideological structure. These changes are visible in the ways that the meanings attached not only to public secularism and gender equality, but also to a range of other republican values (freedom of religion, public order, education, integration, etc.), have shifted. This transformation of French republicanism has also affected the ways in which actors can successfully lay claim to values associated with republicanism, laïcité, and feminism.

Current Activities

Current affiliations:
Member of the Canada Research Chair in Citizenship and Governance.
Member of the Institute for Social Sciences of Politics.

Research interests:
Discourse theory and analysis
The politics of gender and ethnicity


Member of the International Research Training Group "Diversity: Mediating Difference in Transcultural Spaces" (University of Trier – Université de Montréal – Saarland University).
Ph.D. candidate in political science at the Université de Montréal. Completed comprehensive exams in political theory and public policy.
Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan (France)
École Normale Supérieure de Cachan, Visiting Student
Graduate studies in political science at the University of Helsinki, Master’s degree in Social SciencesThesis"The Other Side of Identity: The Islamic Veil as a Marker of a Political Frontier in the French Debate of 2004"
Fall 2007
Exchange studies at Sciences Po Paris
Summer 2005
Summer School of the European Consortium in Political Research, University Pierre-Mendès-France (Grenoble)
Undergraduate studies in political science at the University of Helsinki, Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences
Advanced French Language Diploma (DALF) with a specialization in Social Sciences and Humanities, French Ministry of National Education
Diploma of French Studies (DEF), Centre International d'Études Françaises, University of Burgundy

Work Experience

Oct. 2012 – Jan.2013
Graduate teaching assistant for the course "Introduction to International Studies", Université de Montréal.
Nov. - Dec. 2011
Graduate teaching assistant for the course "Globalization and Governance", Université de Montréal.
Apr. 2009 – May 2010
Research trainee at the Institute for Social Sciences of Politics (ISP, ENS Cachan).
Jan. - Feb. 2009
Seminar manager for the course "Foundations of Political Thought," University of Helsinki.
Nov. - Dec. 2008
Research assistant, University of Helsinki.

Awards and Fellowships

Trans-Atlantic Summer Institute Fellowship in European Studies, University of Minnesota.
The Canadian Centre for German and European Studies, field research grant.
Allocation for doctoral research (allocation doctorale) from Institut Émilie du Châtelet.
Award for the Best Master's Thesis in Political Science (2009–2010) attributed by the Finnish Political Science Association.
International Scholarship Program of the École Normale Supérieure de Cachan.


Republicanism Recast: How the ”Veil Affairs” Transformed French Republican Ideology and Public Discourse (2004–2014) (Université de Montréal, HAL Id: tel-01609978 https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-01609978).
“Sarah Haverkort‐Speekenbrink: European Non‐Discrimination Law: A Comparison of EU Law and the ECHR in the Field of Non Discrimination and Freedom of Religion in Public Employment with an Emphasis on the Islamic Headscarf Issue (Cambridge: 2012)” (Book Review), Droit & Société[http://ds.hypotheses.org/673].
(with Meghan Luhman) “Framing Migration: Rhetoric and Reality in Europe”, Council for European Studies, Reviews and Critical Commentary [http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/critcom/framingmigration‐rhetoric‐and‐reality‐in‐europe‐an‐introduction/].
Review of "Constructing Muslims in France: Discourse, Public Identity, and the Politics of Citizenship" by Jennifer Fredette. Council for European Studies, Reviews and Critical Commentary (CritCom) [published online http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/critcom/constructing-muslims-in-france-discourse-public-identity-and-the-politics-of-citizenship/].
"The Europeanization of the Intersectional Approach to Combating Discrimination: Debates, Policies, and Institutional Changes." Canada-Europe Transaltlantic Dialogue [published online: https://labs.carleton.ca/canadaeurope/2013/commentary-and-literature-review-the-europeanization-of-the-intersectional-approach-to-combating-discrimination-debates-policies-and-institutional-changes/].

Conference Presentations

Apr. 2016
Presentation of the 6th chapter of thesis
Annual Conference, Council for European Studies in Philadelphia, USA, 14-16/04/2016.
May 2015
Négocier les diversités: noveaux espaces de sécuritisation?
Annual Conference of the Société québécoise de science politique, Québec, Canada, 20-22/05/2015.
May 2015
Sécurité publique, droits des femmes, ou insécurité des droits? Une approche morphologique à la transformation de l'idéologie républicaine française
Annual conference of the Société québécoise de science politique, Montréal, Canada, 20/05/2015.
Jul. 2014
Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion across Eurpoe and North America - Thinking beyond Identities
Transatlantic Summer School in European Studies 2014 - Graduate Student Fellowship. Participation à une école d'été organisée par DAAD Center for German and European Studies, University of Minnesota, USA, 07-09/07/2014.
May 2014
Understanding the Sources of Social Solidarity in Diverse Societies
Reporter for the reunion of the program Successful Societies du CIFAR, 02-03/05/204.
Dec. 2013
Discriminations: état des recherches
Colloque de l'Alliance de recherche sur les dicriminations (ARDIS), Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, France, 13/12/2013
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