Antiracism without Races

Politics and Policy in a "Color-Blind" State

in French Politics, Culture & Society
Erik Bleich Middlebury College

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Since the end of the Second World War, millions of immigrants have arrived on French shores.1 Although such an influx of foreigners has not been unusual in French history,2 the origin of the postwar migrants was of a different character than that of previous eras. Prior to World War II, the vast majority of immigrants to France came from within Europe. Since 1945, however, an important percentage of migrants have come from non-European sources. Whether from former colonies in North Africa, Southeast Asia, or sub-Saharan Africa, from overseas departments and territories, or from countries such as Turkey or Sri Lanka, recent immigration has created a new ethnic and cultural pluralism in France. At the end of the 1990s, the visibly nonwhite population of France totals approximately five percent of all French residents.3 With millions of ethnic-minority citizens and denizens, the new France wears a substantially different face from that of the prewar era.

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