Headscarves, Hairstyles and Culture as a Civil Right: A Critique

May 1, 2011

In this paper, Professor Richard Ford (Stanford Law School) argues that the American experience with civil rights – requiring the accommodation of distinctive group practices and cultural affections – largely vindicates France’s concerns over the recent headscarf controversy. Given that the supposedly authentic practices of a minority group are often in fact imposed by more powerful members of the group on others who prefer a less conspicuous or less traditional way of expressing their racial, ethnic or religious identifications, a better way to fight inequality is to adopt policies designed to speed the successful integration of minority groups into mainstream institutions. He advocates for a careful and judicious use of ethnic, racial and religious statistics to this end.

Our reports:

Headscarves, Hairstyles and Culture as a Civil Right: a critique (English)

Foulard, coiffure et culture comme droits du citoyen: une critique (French)