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Maneuvering Whiteness in France

Muslim Converts’ Ambivalent Encounters with Race

Juliette Galonnier

Abstract

This article examines the meanings of Whiteness in France by focusing on the specific case of White converts to Islam. By becoming Muslim, converts enter religious spaces in which they are a numerical minority. Usually unmarked and unnoticed, their Whiteness is now very much visible, prompting interrogations about their racial categorization. Faced with moral dilemmas on how to best position themselves ethically while holding a position of dominance, White converts to Islam resort to a variety of strategies to portray themselves as “good Muslims” and “good Whites.” Relying on ethnography and in-depth interviewing, this article explores the contradictions, inconsistencies, and ambivalences that characterize White identities in the French context.

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Mary Edwards

Abstract

This paper aims to show that Sartre's later work represents a valuable resource for feminist scholarship that remains relatively untapped. It analyses Sartre's discussions of women's attitude towards their situation from the 1940s, 1960s, and 1970s, alongside Beauvoir's account of women's situation in The Second Sex, to trace the development of Sartre's thought on the structure of gendered experience. It argues that Sartre transitions from reducing psychological oppression to self-deception in Being and Nothingness to construing women as ‘survivors’ of it in The Family Idiot. Then, it underlines the potential for Sartre's mature existentialism to contribute to current debates in feminist philosophy by illuminating the role of the imagination in women's psychological oppression.

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Daniel O'Shiel

Abstract

I argue for three different concepts of God in Being and Nothingness. First I review the relevant scholarship with regard to Sartre, religion, and God. Second I show how Sartre uses three Gods in his ontological system: God as Nature, God as radical Otherness, and God as absolute Value. Third I show that Sartre's conception of the imaginary explains how a purer, more theoretical conception of God can be perverted into more anthropocentrised and anthropomorphised versions. Fourth I consider the consequences of sticking to more Sartrean notions which ultimately can emphasise humility, respect, and responsibility before Nature, the Other, and Value, thereby calling for a reduction of both anthropomorphism and -centrism in religious faith and our conceptions of God.

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“White” Guadeloupeans of “Mixed” Ancestry

Complicating Analyses of Whiteness and White Supremacy

Ary Gordien

Abstract

This article explores the various ways in which Guadeloupeans of mixed African and European ancestry who are perceived as White self-identify in relation to their family and individual trajectories. This partial analysis is based on half-dozen semistructured interviews carried out in the course of researching nationalism, race, and ethnicity in Guadeloupe. Complicating rigid definitions of Whiteness and White supremacy, this article interprets the intricate meanings of Whiteness in the specific context of Guadeloupe, and its complex articulation with material and symbolic privilege.

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A White Race Blindness?

Abstract Universalism and the Unspeakable Making of Race

Sarah Mazouz

Abstract

Drawing on observations and on interviews conducted in a préfecture and in a municipalité of the Paris periphery, this article analyzes how republican universalism operates as a “particularizing” tool that enacts Whiteness. Starting from the paradoxical situation in which White state officials are reluctant to engage with the notion of racial discrimination when they are keen to ascribe racial categories to people of color, I argue that race blindness is in fact a form of White blindness to racialization. People of color who subscribe to the ideology of colorblindness tend to adopt a position whereby their loyalty toward the requirement of race blindness is supposed to protect them from suspicions raised by the racialized identity they are assigned to. But in practice, this stance internalizes the way they are viewed by Whites. The article concludes by discussing the link between White race blindness and the failure of republican policies against racial discrimination.

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The Whiteness of French Food

Law, Race, and Eating Culture in France

Mathilde Cohen

Abstract

Food is fundamental to French identity. So too is the denial of structural racism and racial identity. Both tenets are central to the nation's self-definition, making them all the more important to think about together. This article purports to identify and critique a form of “French food Whiteness” (blanchité alimentaire), that is, the use of food and eating practices to reify and reinforce Whiteness as the dominant racial identity. To do so, it develops four case studies of how law elevates a fiction of homogenous French/White food as superior and normative at the expense of alternative ways of eating and their eaters—the law of geographical indications, school lunches, citizenship, and cultural heritage.

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Laura Levine Frader, Ian Merkel, Jessica Lynne Pearson, and Caroline Séquin

Lisa Greenwald, Daughters of 1968: Redefining French Feminism and the Women's Liberation Movement (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

Eric T. Jennings, Escape from Vichy: The Refugee Exodus to the French Caribbean (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018).

Kathleen Keller, Colonial Suspects: Suspicion, Imperial Rule, and Colonial Society in Interwar French West Africa (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2018).

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Educating Women, Recasting Patriarchy

Becoming Modern in Colonial Morocco

Etty Terem

Abstract

This article explores the development of reformist thought and the formulation of modern identities in colonial Morocco. In seeking to move beyond conceptualizing ideas of social reorganization and cultural revival as determined by the encounter between the colonizer and the colonized, it shifts the critical focus to interactions within Moroccan colonial society itself. Specifically, it situates a project of reform in girls’ education within a local and broader debate on the effective formula for educational and pedagogic restructuring that would ensure the advance of the Muslim community. This analysis demonstrates that ideas of social change and cultural innovation in colonial Morocco were shaped by divides and disputes among Moroccans themselves as much as by the colonial state and its policy initiatives.

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Jonathan G. Katz

Abstract

The pioneering French doctor Françoise Entz Légey (1876-1935) devoted her career in Algeria and Morocco to women's healthcare. Much acclaimed in her lifetime, and remembered today largely for her two books on Moroccan folklore, Légey established in Marrakesh a maternity hospital and a milk dispensary. She also embarked on a plan to instruct “modern” midwives to replace indigenous matrones and sages-femmes, known in Arabic as qablas. While Protectorate policy afforded opportunities to European women physicians like Légey, it simultaneously undermined the authority of indigenous Moroccan women healthcare providers. Efforts by Légey and other European physicians to supplant indigenous medicine with biomedicine ultimately contributed to the landscape of medical pluralism that prevails today. Moreover, European medicine disproportionately attracted the Jewish minority and further contributed to Jewish alienation from the Muslim majority.

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Illegible Allegations

Navigating the Meanings of Rape in Colonial Algeria

Sarah Ghabrial

Abstract

Laws that shield men from punishment if they marry their victims are so ubiquitous that their genesis is impossible to identify. Rather than attempting to trace the colonial or pre-colonial “origins” of so-called marry-your-rapist laws in Algeria, this article examines particular moments within this thick history. It posits that Algerian colonial courts were sites of confrontation, misrecognition, and occasional confluence between local remedies for unlawful sex and modern legal conceptions of rape inextricable from medicalized methods of detection. Algerian litigants approached French courts in rape cases demanding forms of redress based in vernacular ontologies of equitable restitution and social cohesion. In turn, colonial authorities inferred equivalences between indigenous normative codes, Islamic textual prescriptions, and the French Code Pénal that reshaped the legal and social meaning of rape.