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Frenchness and the African Diaspora

Identity and Uprising in Contemporary France

Edited by Charles Tshimanga, Didier Gondola, and Peter J. Bloom

Publication Year: 2009

In 2005, following the death of two youths of African origin, France erupted in a wave of violent protest. More than 10,000 automobiles were burned or stoned, hundreds of public buildings were vandalized or burned to the ground, and hundreds of people were injured. Charles Tshimanga, Didier Gondola, Peter J. Bloom, and a group of international scholars seek to understand the causes and consequences of these momentous events, while examining how the concept of Frenchness has been reshaped by the African diaspora in France and the colonial legacy.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-ix

When we embarked upon this project, we had no way of knowing that so many people would lend their support and assist in all stages of the completion of this book. We would like to thank our contributors for their patience and willingness to create this collective intervention with us for the English reading community. ...

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Introduction: Examining Frenchness and the African Diaspora

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pp. 3-18

On October 27, 2005, a few days after the passing of Rosa Parks, one of the last iconic figures of the 1960s American civil rights movement, two youths of Mauritanian and Tunisian origin, Bouna Traor

Part 1. Auto da f

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pp. 19

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1. Primitive Rebellion in the French Banlieues: On the Fall 2005 Riots

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pp. 21-46

The riots that followed the deaths of two teenagers in Clichy-sous-Bois on October 27, 2005, then spread throughout France over the next three weeks, transformed the political and social landscape of the country. These riots forced the French public to acknowledge, at least for a time, the presence of the banlieues, ...

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2. The Republic and Its Beast: On the Riots in the French Banlieues

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pp. 47-54

France is an old country, proud of its traditions and of its history. Without its contribution to philosophy, culture, art, and aesthetics, our world would undoubtedly be poorer in spirit and in humanity. That is the limpid, almost crystalline side of its identity. ...

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3. Figures of Multiplicity: Can France Reinvent Its Identity?

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pp. 55-69

The root cause of the crisis in the banlieues is the way France has historically tried to dodge the question of race even while engaging in multiple practices of “racialization” at every level of daily life. This crisis exposes the impasse that has resulted from the country’s refusal to undertake its own decolonization. ...

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4. Outsiders in the French Melting Pot: The Public Construction of Invisibility for Visible Minorities

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pp. 70-88

The French banlieues are not yet Watts or L.A., but a quarter century of social opprobrium has already lit the fuse on that powder keg of poverty and resentment. And for just as long, the enfants terribles of the housing projects have been pilloried by the public uproar. ...

Part 2. Colonization, Citizenship, and Containment

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pp. 89

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5. From Imperial Inclusion to Republican Exclusion? France’s Ambiguous Postwar Trajectory

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pp. 91-119

When one opens a French newspaper or listens to television news today, the word “republican” appears again and again. The suburban disorder of 2005, to critics of the status quo, represents the incapacity of the republican model of governance to integrate fully recent waves of immigrants into French society. ...

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6. Colonial Syndrome: French Modern and the Deceptions of History

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pp. 120-145

The 2005 riots against discrimination and racism have uncovered a ferocious war of representation going on about France’s past and present, a war with multiple fronts and numerous combat zones. As the French social body is slowly imploding over the fate of citizens of color, the aftermath of the riots has unearthed considerable cracks ...

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7. Transient Citizens: The Othering and Indigenization of Blacks and Beurs within the French Republic

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pp. 146-166

Following the 2005 riots that wreaked havoc in several French banlieues, some Black and Beur civic organizations, including Indig

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8. The Law of February 23, 2005: The Uses Made of the Revival of France’s “Colonial Grandeur”

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pp. 167-184

In the polemics following its passage, the law of February 23, 2005, has been understood as a legislative “accident,” scandalous no doubt, but one, after all, that involved only a few opportunists on the “republican Right” seeking to pick up the votes of rapatriés.1 ...

Part 3. Visions and Tensions of Frenchness

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pp. 185

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9. A Conservative Revolution within Secularism: The Ideological Premises and Social Effects of the March 15, 2004, “Anti-Headscarf” Law

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pp. 187-204

For almost two years, the campaign against “the headscarf at school” provoked political and media hysteria comparable to the Dreyfus Affair.1 Launched by the right-wing government in April 2003, and quickly endorsed by a large portion of the Left, even the extreme Left, this campaign resulted in the law of March 15, 2004, ...

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10. Zidane: Portrait of the Artist as Political Avatar

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pp. 205-226

Zidane: idol, ex-soccer player, object of desire, commodity, political icon, emblem, enigma. Hard to believe that he’s a being of flesh and blood (and nerves, some might add.) The star was born Zineddine Yazid Zidane on June 23, 1972, in Marseilles, to Algerian immigrant parents living in the Castellane housing projects. ...

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11. The State of French Cultural Exceptionalism: The 2005 Uprisings and the Politics of Visibility

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pp. 227-247

In the 2004 Luc Besson–produced thriller District B13 [Banlieue 13] (dir. Pierre Morel), a black American gangsta-rap cultural aesthetic promotes a specifically French vision of natural man against the authority of the corrupt state that has transformed exurban banlieue culture into a walled-off ghetto of the future. ...

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12. Let the Music Play: The African Diaspora, Popular Culture, and National Identity in Contemporary France

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pp. 248-276

In the wake of the riots that caused widespread upheaval in France between October 27 and November 17, 2005, mainstream politicians, social critics, and journalists argued that rap lyrics fueled rebellion in the French suburbs, or banlieues.1 Policymakers such as Nicolas Sarkozy, then interior minister ...

Appendix 1 A Call to Action: “We Are the Natives of the Republic!”

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pp. 277-282


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pp. 283-292


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pp. 293-318

List of Contributors

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pp. 319-322


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pp. 323-336

E-ISBN-13: 9780253003904
E-ISBN-10: 0253003903
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253353757

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 1 b&w illus.
Publication Year: 2009