Three Recent Academic Publications from Professor Fournier

Pascale Fournier, Full Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa and Research Chair in Legal Pluralism and Comparative Law, has recently authored three chapters in different academic publications, all to be published this fall. Her first two contributions relate to the topic of religious and civil divorce in France and England respectively, while the third addresses procedural rules in matters of parental authority under Quebec’s new Code of Civil Procedure.

First, Professor Fournier authors a chapter entitled “Family Law, State Recognition and Intersecting Spheres/Spaces : Jewish and Muslim Women Divorcing in the United Kingdom”, which is to be published in Culture in the Domains of Law, (Cambridge University Press, 2016) edited by René Provost. This chapter presents the experiences of women belonging to Jewish and Muslim communities in the United Kingdom who are simultaneously engaged in a religious and a civil divorce. Professor Fournier uses the concept of “legal pluralism” in order to analyze how these women, as social agents, interact with secular British divorce laws such as the Marriage Act 1949 and the Marriage Act 1994. As such, she examines how the law, as we understand it, is not only made up of abstract legal norms determined by the State, but that it is also conceived from the real life experiences of those who are subjected to it. Relying on fieldwork conducted in London and the surrounding areas, this chapter attempts to demystify the application of religious law in the lives of practising religious women in order to promote a better interaction between religious and civil norms.

Professor Fournier also publishes “ Droit et culture en sol français : récits  de femmes juives et musulmanes à l’aube du crépuscule du divorce ” in the Anthropologie et sociétés journal (Volume 40, Issue 2 – Pluralismes juridiques et interculturalités, 2016), edited by Geneviève Motard, Emmanuelle Piccoli and Christoph Eberhard. This contribution adds to the complex debate involving, firstly, the place of religion within secular States such as France and, secondly, the impact of religious norms on gender equality. Drawing from interviews conducted with Jewish and Muslim women in France, this chapter reveals that, despite not being officially recognized by positive law, religious norms nevertheless play a normative and “legal” role in family matters by that they govern personal relations between individuals who consider them as having binding authority. Moreover, the research undertaken by Professor Fournier suggests that social life organized around a particular religious tradition does not inevitably lead to the marginalization of women. In fact, the analysis puts forward factual cases where women question the content of religious norms and find through religion, which is in constant interaction with civil law, a form of solace and emancipation. Thus, through this contribution, Professor Fournier highlights the informal and malleable nature of religious norms and, in doing so, she provides a counterweight to the belief that religious law systematically oppresses women.

Finally, Professor Fournier’s recent research in the field of Quebec family law has focused on the impact of the new Code of Civil Procedure, particularly in the context of “Applications Relating to Parental Authority” (or “Demandes relatives à l’autorité parentale”). It is the title of a publication (co-authored with Suzie Cusson) appearing as a chapter in Légispratique – Procédures en matières familiales (LexisNexis Publishing, 2016), edited by Marie-France Bureau and Violaine Belzile. This contribution, intended for students and practitioners of the law, presents itself as a road map outlining the rules of procedure relating to parental authority under the new Code of Civil Procedure and discussing topics such as generally applicable procedural rules, procedural specificities for applications related to the exercise of parental authority, deprivation of parental authority, change of name following deprivation of parental authority, restoration of parental authority and the rights of grand-parents.