International Relations, Culture and Politics
Edited By Emmanuel Godin and Natalya Vince
Bruno Levasseur - French Artistes Engagés Transcending the Politics of ‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity’ in the Republic (1980s–2000s) 219
Bruno Levasseur French Artistes Engagés Transcending the Politics of ‘Race’ and ‘Ethnicity’ in the Republic (1980s–2000s)1 In recent decades, following the process of decolonization, new stigmatizing and threatening images of ‘race’ and ‘ethnicity’ have appeared in popular culture, particularly in art.2 The culture of protest and its political dimen- sion and specific aesthetic has of fered an original counter vision of the new ‘racist’ discourse that, in Western nations, associates immigrants with job snatchers, welfare scroungers or threats to security. In France, the mobi- lization of French artistes engagés has been highly significant over the last thirty years and can be located within the development of this aggravating rhetoric of the ‘new racism’ defined by Martin Barker.3 Here, my purpose is to analyse representations of the ‘ethnic other’ in the artistic culture of engagement and the alternative perception of the French Republic which can be found in this artistic culture from the mid-1980s. Since the end of the 1970s, depictions of France have increasingly intersected with the traditional pattern of the postcolonial narrative based 1 I wish to thank Dr Karima Laachir, Dr Béatrice Dammame-Gilbert and Dr Angela Kershaw for their support, comments and advice while preparing this chapter. I am also indebted to the challenging and inspiring contributions made by the participants of the ASMCF conference held in Portsmouth in September 2009. 2 P. Gilroy, Between Camps (London: Allen Lane, 2000), 214–15. 3 M. Barker, The New Racism (London: Junction Books, 1981), 20...
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