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Algeria in France

Transpolitics, Race, and Nation

Paul A. Silverstein

Publication Year: 2004

Algerian migration to France began at the end of the 19th century, but in recent years France's Algerian community has been the focus of a shifting public debate encompassing issues of unemployment, multiculturalism, Islam, and terrorism. In this finely crafted historical and anthropological study, Paul A. Silverstein examines a wide range of social and cultural forms -- from immigration policy, colonial governance, and urban planning to corporate advertising, sports, literary narratives, and songs -- for what they reveal about postcolonial Algerian subjectivities. Investigating the connection between anti-immigrant racism and the rise of Islamist and Berberist ideologies among the "second generation" ("Beurs"), he argues that the appropriation of these cultural-political projects by Algerians in France represents a critique of notions of European or Mediterranean unity and elucidates the mechanisms by which the Algerian civil war has been transferred onto French soil.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: New Anthropologies of Europe


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pp. vii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

The paradigmatic narrative of entry into a field site follows that of Bronislaw Malinowski (1922: 4): “Imagine yourself suddenly set down surrounded by all your gear, alone on a tropical beach close to a native village, while the launch or dinghy which has brought you sails away out of sight.” ...

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Note on Translation and Transliteration

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pp. xiii

All translations throughout the text are mine except where otherwise indicated. In transcribing from Arabic and Berber (Tamazight), I have used French approximations whenever the names, terms, or phrases are of common everyday or scholarly usage (ex. tajma

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pp. 1-16

In the summer of 1995, a series of bombs exploded in subway stations and public markets in Paris and Lyon. Attributed to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) that had been fighting a guerrilla war against the military government in Algeria since 1992, the bombings testified to France’s lack of immunity ...

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1 Immigration Politics in the New Europe

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pp. 17-34

In late May 2000, on the eve of France’s accession to presidency of the European Union (EU), a minor political scandal erupted that laid bare a set of tensions between national identity and supranational governance in the New Europe. Responding to German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer’s project for a “federal Europe,” ...

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2 Colonization and the Production of Ethnicity

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pp. 35-75

One of the major ambivalences associated with the “problem” of immigration, identity, and citizenship in contemporary Europe concerns the management of ethnicity within the contemporary nation-state. Nation-states like France have consistently wavered between the acceptance and erasure of social ...

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3 Spatializing Practices: Migration, Domesticity, Urban Planning

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pp. 76-120

One of the central targets of French colonial ethnological discourse and contemporary nostalgia by Berber activists is the Kabyle house, or axxam. In the colonial context, the axxam was projected as a space of cultural exteriority that functioned simultaneously as an object of assimilation practices ...

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4 Islam, Bodily Practice, and Social Reproduction

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pp. 121-150

The postcolonial production of Algerian subjectivity in France extends beyond the construction, regulation, and renovation of the built environment in which immigrants live and move. The spatializing practices that structure daily life in the cit

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5 The Generation of Generations: Beur Identity and Political Agency

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pp. 151-183

The imagination and practice of belonging in immigrant France is mediated by forms of generational identity and political engagement. Complex and often tendentious relations between different ages of Algerian emigrants, or between parents and children within a single immigrant household, mark daily life in the cit

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6 Beur Writing and Historical Consciousness

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pp. 184-212

Transformations in Franco-Algerian political subjectivity have been reflected not only in public social activism—including anti-racist demonstrations, the founding of neighborhood associations, and violent confrontations with police forces—but also in the production of literary fantasies and genres that detail possible futures in and out of France. ...

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7 Transnational Social Formations in the New Europe

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pp. 213-236

The contestatory narratives of ethnic and political subjectivity outlined in Beur writing have consistently translated into concrete political action framed in transnational terms. In the wake of the Beur Movement, a variety of social movements have been established by Algerian immigrants and their children in contemporary France. ...

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pp. 237-246

The place of ethnoracial, religious, and linguistic difference in the French nation-state has been profoundly ambivalent and marked by the play of structural nostalgia. From the colonization of Algeria through the postcolonial present, state and subaltern actors have simultaneously avowed and disavowed ...


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pp. 247-254


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pp. 255-276


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pp. 277-284

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003041
E-ISBN-10: 0253003040
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253344519

Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 13 b&w photos, 2 figures, 1 bibliog., 1 index
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: New Anthropologies of Europe