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Conclusion Black is not a color, it’s an experience. Black de France1 Black France has underlined the importance of the racial signifier as a way of validating ethnicity as a category of inquiry and in order to counter and negate the French authorities’ historical inclination to address immigration issues in the Hexagon through an undifferentiated paradigm. Accordingly , the framework adopted in Black France has insisted on the importance of a transcolonial approach in order to better access the connections between colonial Occidentalist concepts of superiority and their inherited reformulations in contemporary postcolonial France at the service of culturalist arguments linked to the consolidation of antiquated and mythic notions of French identity. The centrality of Paris as former center of the metropole and French capital city is acknowledged and its continued importance accentuated; but the site is also partially decentered by shifting the focus of the analysis to provincial sites while also suggesting how Paris operated, and continues to operate, as a broader iconic symbol for the metropole and the Hexagon as mutable territorial concepts circulating in the imaginations of migrants and writers. Finally, Black France demonstrates that both francophone colonial and postcolonial sub-Saharan African literatures have always been symbiotically linked to French historiography , and the constitutive nature of literary production that emerges from this demonstration complicates French and European debates on identity and singularity. As a whole, these factors have aimed to provide a better contextualization of the bilateral histories of African-French relations , and in so doing to account for blackness in its multiple expressive forms in France as a lived experience, particularly since these questions have, until recently, been ignored in France. Richard Senghor, in an essay in the journal Esprit, outlined the parameters of a rising Black conscious- ness in France (expressed through the formation of Black activist groups, claims for civil rights, debates on communitarianism and positive discrimination ), and traced the roots of this emerging consciousness back to the 1998 commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.2 A consideration of political discourse in France is indicative of the confused and conflicted approach to minority populations. The most negative components have to do with an apparent consolidation of extreme right-wing positions that have coincided with increasing border control throughout “fortress Europe” and revitalized discussions of the parameters of a European identity. These developments have been accompanied by the deployment of a new official lexicon with which to classify and designate asylum seekers, foreigners, immigrants, and refugees. In We, the People of Europe: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship, French philosopher Etienne Balibar was one of the first to signal this phenomenon and to expose its broader implications. Additionally, a number of “affairs” and crises have been at the forefront of public debate and have received extensive media coverage. For example, on August 23, 1996, several hundred sub-Saharan Africans were removed from the Eglise Saint-Bernard in Paris in what has come to be known as the “affaire des sans-papiers” (“the undocumented immigrant affair”), and in 2004, some fifteen years after the initial “affaire du foulard” (“headscarf affair”) and subsequent “affaire du voile” (“veil affair”), Bernard Stasi published his report, commissioned by the French government, on the state of secularism in France. (That state was aptly characterized by Emmanuel Terray as “Headscarf Hysteria!”3 ) Perhaps one of the most disturbing expressions of these tensions is contained in street graffiti observed in Paris in 1997 by Catherine Raissiguier, namely “Islam = SIDA” (Islam = AIDS); “‘Islam’ is used here to represent a whole set of undesirable immigrants who will not/cannot be integrated into French society.”4 Indeed, if these questions focus on Africa in France, another dimension has also received concerted attention, namely the continuing presence of France in Africa. To this end, the history of French “contact”with Africa has been addressed in the writings of Mongo Beti, such as Main basse sur le Cameroun: Autopsie d’une décolonisation (1972) and France contre l’Afrique: Retour au Cameroun (1993). France’s foreign policy on Africa has been the object of much criticism , particularly through the term françafrique, which combines the French words for France and Africa to reflect the underhanded quality of economic and political relations that are perceived—often rightly so, if one examines the evidence—to function at the expense of African populations and to hinder their ability to compete in the global economy.5 Naturally, though, these elements do not constitute...


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