In recent years, surveys have consistently shown relatively high levels of racism and xenophobia in France. In particular, a 1999 Harris poll conducted for the Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme revealed that 68 percent of the respondents in a national sample declared themselves somewhat racist; 61 percent believed that there are too many foreigners in France; 63 percent believed that there are too many Arabs (up 12 percent compared with 1998); and 38 percent believed that there are too many blacks (up 8 percent compared with 1998).1 Against the backdrop of a long, difficult, and partly repressed colonial past, a full 28 percent of French voters have, since 1983, voted at least once for the openly racist and anti-Semitic Front National.2 These results clash with the popular image of a Republican France, where the dominant political ideology affirms that the ascribed characteristics of citizens are irrelevant to their participation in the polity.
William D. Irvine
Scholars of Third Republic France have long assumed that the political spectrum was divided into a readily identifiable Right and Left, adhering to mutually exclusive positions. But this comfortable political taxonomy could, at times, to violence to political reality. The Right could at some periods in the history of the Third Republic be aggressively nationalistic; at other times it could be positively irenic. The Left was often pacifist, but not always and there were moments when it, or some fraction of it, could be quite bellicose. Neither anti-Semitism nor racism in general were the exclusive province of the Right. On critical issues, the Left could be more refractory to women's rights than was the Right. French fascism claimed to be neither right nor left and at least some French fascist movements could list as many former members of the Left among its leaders as former members of the Right.
Public Policy Against Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in France
Alec G. Hargreaves
The inadequacy of government efforts to curb discrimination against postcolonial minorities, referred to in everyday discourse as “Arabs,” “Muslims,” and “blacks,” is a major weakness in French public policy, feeding resentment that contributes to violent extremism. The first part of this article presents a brief overview of the main policy frames that have been adopted towards postcolonial immigrant minorities in France. The second section examines the development of public policy against racial and ethnic discrimination, highlighting serious limitations with particular reference to police racism, ethnically-based data-gathering, and the Haute Autorité de lutte contre les discriminations et pour l'égalité (HALDE). The third section reviews evidence documenting the high levels of discrimination experienced by racial and ethnic minorities and the ineffectiveness of efforts to combat it. The fourth offers an explanatory framework for the fitful and largely unproductive nature of those efforts.
The University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Campaign to Return a Looted Benin Altarpiece to Nigeria
Johanna Zetterstrom-Sharp and Chris Wingfield
In February 2016, students at Jesus College, Cambridge voted unanimously to repatriate to Nigeria a bronze cockerel looted during the violent British expedition into Benin City in 1897. The college, however, decided to temporarily relocate Okukor to the University’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This article outlines the discussions that occurred during this process, exploring how the Museum was positioned as a safe space in which uncomfortable colonial legacies, including institutionalized racism and cultural patrimony rights, could be debated. We explore how a stated commitment to postcolonial dialogue ultimately worked to circumvent a call for postcolonial action. Drawing on Ann Stoler’s and Elizabeth Edwards’s discussions of colonial aphasia, this article argues that anthropology museums risk enabling such circumvention despite confronting their own institutional colonial legacies.
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.
Public Education and Settler Identity in the Early Third Republic
This article uses an 1881 revolt by settler students at the normal school of Algiers to explore issues of settler identity formation, anticlericalism, and racism. It argues that in the early Third Republic, settlers began to see the public school as a key site for creating a distinctly “Algerian” identity, one that excluded both Algerian Muslims and even new arrivals from the metropole. In this effort, settlers sought to implement radical versions of French republicanism and anticlericalism that were in reality highly restrictive, as they combined both metropolitan disdain for Catholicism and colonial scorn towards Islam. The investigations precipitated by the revolt reveal a colony and metropole whose fundamental concepts took shape in circuit between France and Algeria. The version of republicanism that emerged in Algeria served as an important precursor for the exclusive republicanism and its prohibitions on the public expression of faith in the ascendency in France today.
Patricia Anne Simpson
In this article, I analyze the social and cultural trends from within the music scene that counter challenges the moderate and extreme right. This music centers on the issue of ethnic exclusivity and aggressively insists on accepting Germany as a diverse society, however uncomfortable a fit that may still be for many. Certain bands and musicians move from politics to identity politics, in an attempt to generate a discourse about racism and national identity. By foregrounding the contingent relationship between citizen and nation, bands like Advanced Chemistry destabilize any naturalized or motivated link between self and state. Songs like "Fremd im eigenen Land" dismantle any proprietary relationship between German ethnicity and entitlement to the rights of citizenship. An image of a new Germany emerges that insists on the political acceptance of diversity. Nevertheless, this vision is subject to the pressures of reality: Germany is not by any stretch of the imagination a hate-free zone. Structured in part by responses to alienation within Germany, as well as by imported musical forms of male affinity, some bands, rappers, and musicians are organizing themselves into new fraternities. While criticizing or rejecting certain Americanized clichés of masculinity, the bands I discuss look beyond the caricatures of yuppies and cowboys to different models.
A Philosophical Defense
Mabogo P. More
How should black people, indeed any other group of people in general, respond when they are grouped together and oppressed on the basis of the contingency of their physical characteristics? Questions of liberation from oppression involve questions about the means to overcome that oppression. Throughout the ages of struggle against racial oppression, for example, collective black identity and solidarity has been one of the favourite responses and rallying call for racial justice and liberation. In South Africa this response has recently emerged through the formation of a number of highly controversial groups such as: The Native Club, The African Forum, and The Forum for Black Journalists. Critics of these formations think that such black solidarity, divisive, irrational, morally objectionable and, above all, racist. This paper defends the emancipatory racial solidarity tradition, examplified by The Native Club and similar constituted organisations, against such serious charges and critiques mounted by contemporary leading thinkers on identity. The tools for such a defense are primarily derived from Jean-Paul Sartre's conception of group formation in his Critique Of Dialectical Reason. I argue that since anti-black racist consciousness always operates at the level of collectives, it is therefore impossible to fight such racism as an individual; that collective black solidarity is a necessary condition for racial emancipation.
Despite some scholarly attention, the Native-American–Chinese association is mainly studied from the White perspective. One may get the impression that connections between the two similarly marginalized groups are either imagined or promoted by Whites for their own benefit. But, as a matter of fact, American Indians, joined by their White friends, did initiate associations with the Chinese out of their own racial considerations. One case in point is Pan-Indians’ reference to the Chinese in the process of forging a united and unique identity for the Indian race at the turn of the twentieth century. With those allusions, Native Americans were constructed into a group that was exceptional and progressive, benevolent and cosmopolitan—in short, a group that Whites should accept and respect as fellow Americans. Passively involved in proving Indians’ eligibility for American nationality, the Chinese emerged as racialized but less repugnant than they had been in Whites’ racist depictions. Pan-Indians’ citation of the Chinese thus registers the caution with which they navigated the constraints imposed by American racism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Origins and Arguments
David R. Roediger
The call-in show on Wisconsin Public Radio in 1995 began with the host skilfully introducing me as an historian who tried to explain how a white identity had come to seem so important to so many working people in the United States. We talked about efforts to understand why such significant numbers of people came to see themselves not as workers, but as white workers; not as women but as white women, and so on. And then to the phones and eager callers: Why do African countries make so little progress? Aren’t African Americans racist too? Isn’t their “reverse racism” the biggest problem? Hasn’t the welfare system enlarged a parasitic, amoral nonwhite underclass? The barrage of such questions, on public radio in a quite liberal city, took virtually the whole hour. The last caller, an African American worker at the University of Wisconsin, initially offered no question but a comment. All of the prior questions, she observed, focused on people of colour. Despite the subject of my work, she continued, and despite the moderator’s unambiguous introduction, no caller had deigned to discuss whiteness at all. If I were an expert on race, the white callers had been certain that my role was to contest or to endorse accusations and generalisations concerning those who were not white. Why was it so hard to discuss whiteness?