Abdelmalek Sayad and the Double Absence

in French Politics, Culture & Society
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  • 1 New York University
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At the time of his death, the sociologist of immigration Abdelmalek Sayad (1933-1998) was putting the final touches on a collection of his principal articles—since published under the title La Double Absence.1 The publication of this collection provides, I think, a good occasion for introducing Sayad to the anglophone public, which to date has had almost no exposure to his work. In France, Sayad’s sociology has been essential not only to the study of Algerian immigration, but to the understanding of migration as a “fait social total,” a total social fact, which reveals the anthropological and political foundations of contemporary societies. The introduction of this exceptional work to American specialists of French studies is timely, moreover, because immigration and more recently, colonization have been among the most dynamic areas of research in the field in the past few years.

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