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Rapping the Republic

Utopia, Critique, and Muslim Role Models in Secular France

Jeanette S. Jouili

This article examines the work and public reception of two, outspokenly Muslim, French rap artists. While both promote similar visions of a cosmopolitan French nation inclusive of its racial and religious (in particular Muslim) minorities, they express very different kinds of affective attachments to the French nation. I show that it is these affective attachments rather than their piety that explains their different reception within France?s media and political landscape. My claim in this article is that while secularity can be considered to be more lenient than often expected towards religion, it does not show the same flexibility towards the political commitments that go along. Thus, the legitimate secular subject, especially when of immigrant and Muslim background, must be loyal to the nation-state and display the corresponding affective structures.

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René, Ginette, Louise et les autres

nostalgie et authenticité dans la chanson néo-réaliste

Barbara Lebrun

France's retro rock music (chanson néo-réaliste) of the 1990s and 2000s favors acoustic music and "old-fashioned" instruments such as the accordion in order to reject today's fascination with novelty and consumerism. In doing so, this music genre looks back to pre-war France and rehabilitates an all-white national culture that is problematically nostalgic, in a similar fashion to the film Amélie. This article explores the ways in which chanson néo-réaliste still manages to forge a sense of protest identity in contemporary France, while engaging in apparently reactionary tactics. The specificities of this music genre are explored through an analysis of the lyrics, music, iconography and performance of, primarily, the group Têtes Raides, while contrasting their nostalgia of "protest" with that of the more commercially successful genre of variétés.

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AIDS and Postcolonial Politics

Acting Up on Science and Immigration in France

Michael J. Bosia

From a postcolonial left that challenges the French state over immigration policy and neoliberal globalization, Act Up has advocated for the social and political rights and needs of women, inmates, drug users, and immigrants with HIV/AIDS. This essay examines as well Act Up's engagement with science and globalization in response to new experimental medical trials in the Global South. Act Up's emphasis on local empowerment against global economic and social actors has earned criticism from American and South African AIDS activists, but at the same time these campaigns stress the universalist impulse imbedded in the Act Up brand of French Republican politics.

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Pascal Perrineau

Nicolas Sarkozy's victory in the 2007 French presidential elections represents a true rupture: rupture with years of political apathy, rupture with what was an escalating rise of political protest, rupture with a "law" that since 1981 seemed to require that every outgoing majority be beaten. Sarkozy's electoral victory was substantial. It was built on a notion that what the French were looking for was a strong sense of direction, and it gave rise to a dynamic of striking change right after the election (a political opening to the left, a shift in presidential style, disarray in the Socialist Party, and the marginalization of the National Front).

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Soixante ans après

pour un état des lieux de mémoire

Nathan Bracher

In reviewing various commemorations that highlighted the year 2005 in France, this article points out the major evolutions of memory visible primarily in the press and media coverage of these events. If public memory remains as highly charged and polemical as it was in the 1980s and 1990s, attention is clearly turning away from the Occupation and Vichy to focus more on Europe and on France's colonial past, as we see not only in the ceremonies celebrating the "liberation" of Auschwitz, the Allied victory over Nazi Germany, and the dedication of the Mémorial de la Shoah, but also in the many articles devoted to Russian and Eastern European experiences of the war, as well as to the bloody postwar repressions of colonial uprisings in Algeria and Madagascar. Now that racial and ethnic tensions are exacerbating an increasingly fragmented public memory, the work of history is more urgent than ever.

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L'État éducateur politique dans les campagnes du dix-neuvième siècle

Lectures franco-méditerranéennes d'Eugen Weber

Gilles Pécout

This article explores the role of the state as a vector of political acculturation in the French and Euro-Mediterranean countryside in the nineteenth century. It begins with a consideration of the importance of the reciprocal images of peasants and elites. It goes on to discuss how the terms "modernization" and "modernity" have been called into question, largely on account of how historians have deployed arguments originating in the disciplines of economics and anthropology. Finally, it examines how the debate about the role of the state in rural politicization, based on readings of Eugen Weber's classic book, Peasants into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France (1870-1914), goes beyond the simple question of the efficiency of the administration and opens up a wider inquiry into the virtual integration of people into the state and the role of rural elites in mediating between the local and the national.

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The Choice of Ignorance

The Debate on Ethnic and Racial Statistics in France

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.

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Empty Promises?

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.

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La course au centre

Policy Convergence and Partisanship in France, 1981-2002

Sally Marthaler

Policy convergence between the political parties and the perception among voters that there is little to choose between left and right may be factors in the declining levels of partisanship observed in many advanced industrial democracies, including France, where these conditions emerged in the 1980s. Drawing on both quantitative and qualitative data, this article analyzes changes in the actual and perceived level of convergence between the mainstream parties in France from 1981 to 2002. It finds evidence of increasing policy convergence over the period as a result of a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors. It concludes that left-right ideological labels are still important to voters, even though they too have moved to the center, and that many of them want to see a clear dividing-line between the parties. The blurring of the boundaries between left and right and the “reversibility” of the mainstream parties has also enhanced the appeal of alternative and extremist parties.

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Brigitte Humbert

“Screening France” in America takes several forms: American films that take place in France or use French people as their central characters, French films released in the US, and American remakes of French films. Since American remakes of French films usually become full-fledged American movies, and French films are often re-edited before being shown on American screens, all forms tend to display the same characteristics, often determined by the American cinematic taste for romance, a clear separation between good and evil, and a preferably happy ending that will gather all the loose ends. Though such characteristics may satisfy moviegoers’ instinctive longings for romance, happiness and clear-cut morals, this taste was reinforced and legitimized during the Production Code and studio system era (from the 1930s through the 1950s).