French Politics, Culture & Society

Executive Editor: Edward Berenson, New York University
Editor: Elisabeth Fink, New York University

Subjects: Contemporary French Studies, Politics, History, Sociology, Anthropology, Geography, Cultural Studies

The journal of the Conference Group on French Politics & Society. It is jointly sponsored by the Institute of French Studies at New York University and the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University

 Available on JSTOR

Latest Issue Table of Contents

Volume 39 (2021): Issue 2 (Jun 2021): Whiteness in France. Guest Editors: Mathilde Cohen and Sarah Mazouz

French Politics, Culture & Society
Volume 39, Issue 3 – Winter 2021

The Rue d’Isly, Algiers, 26 March 1962: The Contested Memorialization of a Massacre
Fiona Barclay

Les Enfants Perdus: Asylum Reform, Parents’ Groups, and Disability Rights in France, 1968–1975
Jonathyne Briggs

Obscene or Exemplary? Robert Marchand’s Cycling World Hour Record: Sport, Aging, and Neoliberalism in Contemporary France
Hugh Dauncey and Jonathan Ervine

Navigating the Fourth Republic: West African University Students between Metropolitan France and Dakar
Harry Gamble

Hammer and Cycle: Communism’s Cycling Counterculture in Interwar France
Martin Hurcombe

Colonial Legacy: French Retirees in Nha Trang, Vietnam Today
Anne Raffin

Imperial Farce? The Coronation of Bokassa the First and the (Failed) Manufacture of Charisma
Jason Yackee

Volume 39 / 2021, 3 issues per volume (spring, summer, and winter)

Aims & Scope

FPC&S is the journal of the Conference Group on French Politics & Society. It is jointly sponsored by the Institute of French Studies at New York University and the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University.

French Politics, Culture & Society explores modern and contemporary France from the perspectives of the social sciences, history, and cultural analysis. It also examines France's relationship to the larger world, especially Europe, the United States, and the former French Empire. The editors also welcome pieces on recent debates and events, as well as articles that explore the connections between French society and cultural expression of all sorts (such as art, film, literature, and popular culture). Issues devoted to a single theme appear from time to time. With refereed research articles, timely essays, and reviews of books in many disciplines, French Politics, Culture & Society provides a forum for learned opinion and the latest scholarship on France.


French Politics, Culture & Society is indexed/abstracted in:

  • Bibliometric Research Indicator List (BFI) 
  • Biography Index (H.W. Wilson/EBSCO)
  • British Humanities Index (CSA/ProQuest)
  • Cabell's Directory
  • Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO)
  • European Reference Index for the Humanities and the Social Sciences (ERIH PLUS)
  • Historical Abstracts (EBSCO)
  • IBR – International Bibliography of Book Reviews of Scholarly Literature on the Humanities and Social Sciences (De Gruyter)
  • IBZ – International Bibliography of Periodical Literature in the Humanities and Social Sciences (De Gruyter)
  • IBSS – International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (CSA/ProQuest)
  • Index Islamicus
  • Linguistics and Language Behavior Abstracts (Proquest)
  • MLA International Bibliography
  • Periodicals Acquisitions (CSA/ProQuest)
  • Periodicals Index Online (Chadwyck-Healey/ProQuest)
  • ProQuest Research Library (CSA/ProQuest)
  • Scopus (Elsevier)
  • SOAS Library
  • Social Planning-Police & Development Abstracts
  • Social Sciences Abstracts (H.W. Wilson/EBSCO)
  • Social Sciences Index (H.W. Wilson/EBSCO)
  • Social Services Abstracts (CSA/ProQuest)
  • Sociological Abstracts (CSA/ProQuest)
  • Sociologie-Démographie (AERES)
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts (CSA)

Executive Editor: Edward Berenson, New York University, USA

Editor: Elisabeth Fink, New York University, USA

Editorial Board:
Marcos Ancelovici, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
Frank Baumgartner, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Alban Bensa, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France
Laure Bereni, Centre Maurice Halbwachs, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France
Herrick Chapman, New York University, USA
Nicholas Entrikin, University of Notre Dame, USA
Éric Fassin, École normale supérieure, France
Julie Fette, Rice University, USA
Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas, University of California at Berkeley, USA
Laura L. Frader, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University; Northeastern University, USA
Patrick Fridenson, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France
Stéphane Gerson, New York University, USA
Arthur Goldhammer, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University, USA
Nancy L. Green, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France
Gérard Grunberg, Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, France
Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard University, USA
Denis Hollier, New York University, USA
Olivier Ihl, Institut d'Études Politiques de Grenoble, France
Paul Jankowski, Brandeis University, USA
Jean-Francois Klein, INALCO, France
Lawrence D. Kritzman, Dartmouth College, USA
Michèle Lamont, Harvard University, USA
Jonah Levy, University of California at Berkeley, USA
Mary Dewhurst Lewis, Harvard University, USA
Kimberly Morgan, George Washington University, USA
Philip Nord, Princeton University, USA
Bruno Palier, Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, France
Deborah Reed-Danahay, SUNY Buffalo, USA
Donald Reid, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA
Jacques Revel, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France
Susan Carol Rogers, New York University, USA
George Ross, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University; Brandeis University, USA
Emmanuelle Saada, Columbia University, USA
Anne Sa'adah, Dartmouth College, USA
Martin Schain, New York University, USA
James Shields, Aston University, UK
Alexis Spire, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université de Lille 2, France
Christian Topalov, École des hautes études en sciences sociales, France
Frédéric Viguier, New York University, USA
Patrick Weil, Centre national de la recherche scientifique Université de Paris-I, Panthéon-Sorbonne, France
Claire Zalc, Institut d'Histoire Moderne et Contemporaine, CNRS-ENS, France
Martha Zuber, Centre de sociologie des organisations, Centre national de la recherche scientifique, France

Manuscript Submission

Please review the submission and style guidelines carefully before submitting.

Please submit articles as text attachments by e-mail, formatted as Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (rtf) files, to the managing editor at

Research articles should be 4,500 to 10,000 words (30,000 to 66,000 signes), including notes. Essays on recent debates and events may be 3,000 to 6,250 words (20,000 to 40,000 signes). Review articles must be between 2,000 and 3,000 words (13,000 to 20,000 signes). Book reviews should run between 750 and 1,500 words (6,500 to 10,000 signes).

All submissions should include the name, e-mail and mail addresses, institutional affiliation, and telephone number (as well as fax number if available).

Authors will be required (with the exception of Book Reviewers) to send an abstract of no more than 150 words, 5 keywords, and biographical data of less than 100 words for each contributor.

Manuscripts may be submitted in French or English. All article titles, abstracts, and keywords should be supplied in English for abstracting purposes.

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Ethics Statement

Authors published in French Politics, Culture & Society (FPCS) certify that their works are original and their own. The editors certify that all materials, with the possible exception of editorial introductions, book reviews, review essays, and some types of commentary, have been subjected to double-blind peer review by qualified scholars in the field. While the publishers and the editorial board make every effort to see that no inaccurate or misleading data, opinions, or statements appear in this journal, they wish to make clear that the data and opinions appearing in the articles herein are the sole responsibility of the contributor concerned. For a more detailed explanation concerning these qualifications and responsibilities, please see the complete FPCS ethics statement.

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The Choice of Ignorance

The Debate on Ethnic and Racial Statistics in France

Author: Patrick Simon

For more than a century, statistics describing immigration and assimilation in France have been based on citizenship and place of birth. The recent concern for racial discrimination has given rise to a heated controversy over whether to introduce so-called "ethnic categories" into official statistics. In this article, I make an assessment of the kind of statistics that are available today and the rationale behind their design. I then discuss the main arguments put forward in the controversy and argue that antidiscrimination policies have created a new need for statistics that outweigh the arguments against the use of "ethnic statistics." In fact, beyond the technical dimension of this controversy lies a more general political debate about the multicultural dimensions of French society.

Symptomatic Politics

The Banning of Islamic Head Scarves in French Public Schools

Author: Joan W. Scott

The events that became known as the affaires de foulard began on 3 October 1989, when three Muslim girls who refused to remove their head scarves were expelled from their middle school in the town of Creil, about thirty miles outside of Paris. The headmaster, Eugène Chenière, claimed he was acting to enforce laïcité––the French version of secularism. According to Chenière, laïcité–– a concept whose meaning would be furiously debated in the months and years that followed––was an inviolable and transparent principle, one of the pillars of republican universalism. The school was the cradle of laïcité, the place where the values of the French republic were nurtured and inculcated. It was, therefore, in the public schools that France had to hold the line against what he later termed “the insidious jihad.”

French Color Blindness in Perspective

The Controversy over "Statistiques Ethniques"

In the United States, while some race-based policies such as affirmative action have faced often successful political and legal challenges over the last quartercentury, historically, the very principle of official racial classification has met with much less resistance. The Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment, according to which “no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” was not originally intended to incorporate a general rule of “color blindness.” And when in California, in 2003, the “Racial Privacy Initiative” led to a referendum on a measure—Proposition 54—demanding that “the state shall not classify any individual by race, ethnicity, color or national origin,” this restriction was meant to apply exclusively to the operation of public education, public contracting or public employment, that is, the three sites where affirmative action was once in effect and might be reinstated at some point, or so the proponents of that initiative feared. In any case, that measure was roundly defeated at the polls.

Author: Robert A. Nye

We might begin with a few comparative remarks about sex and politics in France and the US. Americans were treated in 1998 to a deliciously painful set of events that precipitated a full-scale constitutional crisis in the US and some rethinking of the relations of the public and private spheres. Despite what seemed to many French observers as a more or less unproblematic White House sex scandal, it was denied by American commentators left and right that Monicagate had anything at all to do with sex. It’s not about sex, said Clinton’s Republican accusers, it’s about lying under oath and the rule of law. It’s not about sex, said his Democrat defenders, it’s about his political enemies seizing any opportunity they can to undo two consecutive elections. Nor was the affair about sex for the principal actors: for Kenneth Starr, presidential sex was just a convenient way to set a legal trap for a slippery guy he couldn’t nail any other way; for Linda Tripp, it was the royal road to personal revenge; for Monica Lewinsky it was a chance to consort with a powerful man. It wasn’t even sex, as we have heard many times, for Bill Clinton himself, but something that never rose to the level of what New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called “lying-down adult sex.” Even Hustler publisher and cinema free-speech hero Larry Flynt, whom no one would accuse of being dismissive of sexuality, treated sex in this whole matter as an opportunity to expose the hypocrisy of his political enemies.

The Empire of Law

Dignity, Prestige, and Domination in the “Colonial Situation”

My contribution is an attempt to resolve one of those enigmas that the French colonial archives hold for assiduous readers. In the course of comparative research on the juridical status of métis children in the French Empire,1 I was struck by the frequency with which the terms “dignity” and “prestige” figured in a wide range of colonial preoccupations—whether on the part of local or central administrations, private individuals or institutions. These were not merely personal or social qualities, but terms that had precise legal meanings and that played a central role in colonial jurisprudence. In this context, the terms were predominantly used in the negative—referring to threats to prestige (atteintes au prestige) or to the obligation to maintain one’s dignity (garder sa dignité).