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« Une et divisible ? »

Plural Identities in Modern France


Edited By Barbara Lebrun and Jill Lovecy

This book offers a selection of the papers presented at the 2008 annual conference of the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France (ASMCF), with chapters focusing on regional formation, European policy, the cultural landscape of Paris, the place of Maghrebi artists in popular music, the evolution of cultural policy regarding ‘popular’ culture, and filmic and novelised representations of desire, ethnicity and nationality.
Guided by postcolonial critique, this book takes as its starting point the recognition of multiple identities in modern and contemporary France, despite (and against) the traditional republican emphasis on national unification and the relegation of notions of ethnicity, sexuality and cultural difference to the so-called private sphere. While many publications have engaged with this topic, few juxtapose social and political issues with cultural approaches. This edited volume, by contrast, incorporates the work of specialists drawn from a broad range of academic disciplinary areas, including history, politics, literature and cultural studies, and shows how perceptions of the self and of the other as French have changed over the years, with an emphasis on the contemporary period (post-1945).


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Sami Naïr - Preface: Reflections on the Republic and Ethnicity 11


Sami Naïr Preface: Ref lections on the Republic and Ethnicity I cannot claim to answer all the dif ficult questions raised by the title of this preface. I would be satisfied, however, if I could cover two or three points concerning the current crisis of the French republican model. I am aware of the UK’s great tradition of original research and thought on questions of identity, belonging, and respect for human rights, so I shall limit my remarks to France, without hazarding any comparisons with Britain which may be made elsewhere. To start with, it is true that France is going through a period of crisis, like all the old European societies, for reasons that everyone knows about: economic globalisation, transformation of the labour market, new migra- tions which are often uncontrolled, a blockage of the mechanisms of social integration, a rise of racism and discrimination – in short, a series of threats to social cohesion. Some people wonder about the capacity of the French republican model to meet these challenges. If we examine the question of the struggle against discrimination and racism, we now hear critics who say that the republican model makes it impossible to fully confront discrimination, first because it is based on an abstract conception of citizenship, and secondly, and just as much, because it obstinately refuses to use certain methods of investigation, in particu- lar those involving ethnic statistics, to measure discrimination. In short, the Republic is said to be unable, because of its very...

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