All too often, the question of Muslim minorities in Europe and America is discussedsolely in socioeconomic terms or with a simplistic focus on the Islamicreligion and its purported incompatibility with democracy. This article focusesinstead on the secularism of Western host societies as a major factor in the integrationof Muslim minorities. It compares French and American secularismand argues that while French-style secularism has contributed to present tensionsbetween French Muslims and the French state, American secularism hasfacilitated the integration of Muslims in the United States—even after 9/11.
Its Consequences for Secularism
Cultural anthropology in France continues to bear the influence of a colonial-era distinction between “modern” societies with a high degree of social differentiation (and marked by rapid social change) and ostensibly socially homogeneous and change-resistant “traditional” ones. The history of key institutions (museums and research institutes) bears witness to this, as does recent scholarship centered on “the contemporary” that reworks earlier models and concepts and applies them to a world increasingly marked by transnational circulation and globalization. Anthropology at the Crossroads describes the evolution of a national tradition of scholarship, changes to its institutional status, and the models, concepts, and critical perspectives of anthropologists currently revisiting and reworking the foundations of the discipline in France.
In France, the 21 April 2002 presidential election result has renewed interest in the electoral cleavage between women and men, who cast their votes very differently to qualify candidates for the second round of the election. Among women voters, Lionel Jospin (the Socialist leader) came in second behind Jacques Chirac, with Jean-Marie Le Pen (leader of the Front national) being eliminated from the contest; among men, Le Pen came out on top followed by Chirac. On the basis of a major quantitative election survey conducted in France in 2002 by the Centre de Recherches Politiques de Sciences Po, this article undertakes to understand why fewer women than men vote for the extreme Right. Sociologically, Le Pen made his lowest scores among two groups of women that contrast in numerous aspects: young, highly educated professional women, and older, retired, widowed women. Strong ideological logics lie behind this contrasted sociology of female anti-Lepenism, rationales that are generation-specific, but gender-specific as well: feminism and Catholicism "process" male and female identity differently. (This research was first published in French in Bruno Cautrès and Nonna Mayer, eds., Le Nouveau Désordre électoral (2004), 207-28.)
une géographie à inventer
This article argues that the way French society comprehends its territory is not only an aspect of a more general identity crisis, but also an acting component of an overall political model. France can be characterized as a "state-fatigued" society. Centralism has had an important spatial consequence: an alliance of the nation-state and provincial "notables" against the city. The major cities, especially Paris, produce for the rest of the country but continue to be denied effective local and regional political power. In this context, the peculiar tradition of aménagement du territoire can be analyzed as a discourse based on the myth of a demiurge, the state, which would be the only legitimate actor able to restore France's grandeur by reconquering the deprived parts of its territory. Correlative public polices target moral compensation for a supposed injustice: a partial reimbursement of the debt France once contracted by incorporating the provinces into the national territory. After reviewing disappointing recent changes in the geographical architecture of political power, the article makes some proposals. They are based on the dual framework that an empowerment of relevant spatial units will be necessary and that only a profound and massive debate involving ordinary citizens can overcome the current institutional gridlock.
Recasting the Image of the Post-1945 French Occupation of Germany
In much of the English-language scholarship on the post-1945 Allied occupation of Germany, French officials appear as little more than late arrivals to the victors’ table, in need of and destined to follow Anglo-American leadership in the emerging Cold War. However, French occupation policies were unique within the western camp and helped lay the foundations of postwar Franco-German reconciliation that are often credited to the 1963 Elysée Treaty. Exploring how the French occupation has been neglected, this article traces the memory of the zone across the often-disconnected work of French-, German-, and English-speaking scholars since the 1950s. Moreover, it outlines new avenues of research that could help historians resurrect the unique experience of the French zone and enrich our appreciation of the Franco-German “motor” on which Europe still relies.
The Sexual Boundaries of French Nationalism
Julie Billaud and Julie Castro
This essay seeks to analyze the recent reconfigurations of French nationalism, taking as an entry point the legal treatment of veiled Muslim women and prostitutes over the past two decades. We argue that the bodies of prostitutes and veiled Muslim women, both of which have been targeted by successive legal interventions in order to exclude them from the public space, have become central political sites for the state to assert its sovereign power and trigger nationalist feelings. This comparative analysis of gendered “lawfare“ (which John Comaroff has defined as the judicialization of politics and the resort to legal instruments to commit acts of political coercion) provides insights into a new form of nationalism that strives to foster “sexual liberalism“ as a core value of citizenship in order to enforce a virile nationalism, prescribe new sexual normativities, and criminalize immigrants and those living at the social margins.
From Flaubert to Sartre
Based on the notion of legal responsibility, the article establishes a connection between the social conditions of production of literature and the ethical principles that founded the commitment of writers as intellectuals in France from the nineteenth century to the post-World War II period. While the penal responsibility of the author is imbued with a belief in the power of words, the trials were in turn often the occasion for writers like Flaubert and Baudelaire to define their own ethics of responsibility against the values of conventional morality and political conformity through which their work was liable to condemnation. Articulating these ethical principles affirmed the writer's independence from political and religious authorities and contributed to the emergence of an autonomous literary field, as defined by Pierre Bourdieu. The figure of the writer as a public intellectual best embodied by Zola and Sartre emerged on the basis of this code of ethics.
Based on news video archives, this article employs critical frame and content analysis to analyze representations of the 2005 French banlieue riots on France's most-watched television station, TF1. Cultural racism theory is then used to analyze the results to demonstrate the discursive nature of the TF1 frames and the contexts of institutional racism they left out but which historians, ethnographers, and theorists of cultural racism suggest are crucial to understanding racial conflict in contemporary France. The most frequent frames blamed non-integrating cultures and illegal immigration. That is, race was coded in cultural traits of a problematic sub-group without mentioning it specifically.
Views of Interracial Romance in French Films and Reviews since the 1980s
This article explores French attitudes about race during and after the years of the National Front's breakthrough by looking at French films and film reviews on the topic of interracial couples. In a country in which antiracists have been reluctant to legitimize the concept of race by talking about it, but in which the far Right has made gains by proclaiming its own views on race, French film-makers in the 1980s and after broached the topic in numerous films, but they often did so in ways that avoided controversy or serious reflection on current French racism. French critics of both French and American films featuring interracial couples also sidestepped the most explosive issues, revealing a disinclination to discuss a troubling and divisive concept, but also a persistent belief that racism remained an American problem and obsession.
The Name Taboo, the Number Taboo
In 2005, black people in France decided to create a national organization: the CRAN. The country had lived for decades on the myth of human rights and equality, and as a result, minorities were invisible, and were expected to remain so. Therefore, the two most important goals of the CRAN have been: to give a name, to give a figure. The taboo of the name was broken when black people decided to stand up for what they are, to call themselves "black," however unusual this might sound in French public discourse; the taboo of the figure was also broken when the CRAN decided to launch the issue of ethnic statistics in France. Until then, blacks would not exist as such in this country, and racial discrimination would remain ignored for the most part. But since this campaign was launched, ethnic statistics have become an important issue. The debate is still going on.