An American scholar is often struck by the absence of race in France as a
category of analysis or the absence of discussions of race in its historical
or sociological dimensions. After all, “race” on this side of the Atlantic, for
reasons having to do with the peculiar history of the United States, has long
been a focus of discussion. The notion of race has shaped scholarly analysis
for decades, in history, sociology, and political science. Race also constitutes
a category regularly employed by the state, in the census, in electoral districting,
and in affirmative action. In France, on the contrary, race hardly seems
acknowledged, in spite of both scholarly and governmental preoccupation
with racism and immigration.
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