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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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Obscuring Race

Franco-African Conversations about Colonial Reform and Racism after World War II and the Making of Colorblind France, 1945–1950

Emily Marker

In 1945, the first significant cohort of African, Caribbean, and Malagasy deputies were elected to the French National Assembly, where they participated in special parliamentary commissions tasked with colonial reform. This article traces the contours of postwar conversations about colonial policy, race, and racism that took shape in those commissions, as metropolitan and colonial deputies confronted these issues face-to-face, as ostensible equals, for the first time. Deputies of color tried to force frank discussions about racial inequality in their campaigns to reform political representation, working conditions, education, and compensation for Africans. Their metropolitan counterparts responded, however, by developing new code words and rhetorical strategies that deflected accusations of systemic racial inequality in postwar Greater France. The competing understandings and ways of talking about race and racism produced in this encounter helped consolidate a postwar speech regime of “colorblindness” that obscured the way racial logics were inscribed in the new institutions of the postwar Republic.

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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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The Social Life of Fighting Words

The Case of Political Correctness

Ronald S. Stade

discredit antidiscrimination policies and practices. The conceptual constellation that supports attacks against “political correctness” is asymmetrical. It pits “political correctness,” which is vaguely defined as an oversensitive reaction to perceived