Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Race in France

Race in France: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Politics of Difference

Herrick Chapman
Laura L. Frader
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 276
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Race in France
    Book Description:

    Scholars across disciplines on both sides of the Atlantic have recently begun to open up, as never before, the scholarly study of race and racism in France. These original essays bring together in one volume new work in history, sociology, anthropology, political science, and legal studies. Each of the eleven articles presents fresh research on the tension between a republican tradition in France that has long denied the legitimacy of acknowledging racial difference and a lived reality in which racial prejudice shaped popular views about foreigners, Jews, immigrants, and colonial people. Several authors also examine efforts to combat racism since the 1970s.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-179-2
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Introduction: Race in France
    (pp. 1-20)
    Herrick Chapman and Laura L. Frader

    American scholars have often been struck by the absence in France of race as a category of analysis, or likewise its rarity as a subject for serious historical and sociological examination.¹ After all, race on this side of the Atlantic, for reasons having to do with the history of slavery and its legacy in the United States, has long been a focus of discussion. For many decades the notion of race has shaped American scholarly analysis in history, the social sciences, and literary studies. Race also constitutes a category regularly employed by the state in the census, electoral districting, and...

  5. I. Republican Foundations and Practices

    • 1 Republican Anti-racism and Racism: A Caribbean Genealogy
      (pp. 23-35)
      Laurent Dubois

      In the Département d’Outre-Mer of Guadeloupe, a schoolteacher named Hugues Delannay presents me with a conundrum that has preoccupied him for a long time. He has been teaching in a lycée for over twenty years in Basse-Terre, the island’s capital, and has had many brilliant students who, when they take their baccalaureat examinations, get mixed results. Normally, they excel on the written portions of the examination. Consistently, however, they do worse on their oral examinations, which drags down their grades. Why? It is not that their speaking skills are not up to par—far from it, he tells me, these...

    • 2 Albert Sarraut and Republican Racial Thought
      (pp. 36-53)
      Clifford Rosenberg

      Between the world wars, France attracted more immigrants per capita than any other country in the world. By 1931, roughly three million had settled in the Hexagon—7 percent of the total population, according to official statistics. Political refugees and workers alike, they came primarily from Italy, Poland, and Spain, but also Russia, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. France also welcomed a greater non-European minority than any other country on the continent. Well over a hundred thousand arrived, almost exclusively from North Africa, especially Algeria.¹ The level of immigration rose so high so fast that many commentators began to worry about...

    • 3 Intermarriage, Independent Nationality, and the Individual Rights of French Women: The Law of 10 August 1927
      (pp. 54-76)
      Elisa Camiscioli

      In her 1938 essayThree Guineas, Virginia Woolf questioned the meaning of patriotism and national belonging for British women who, because of their gender, were denied equal access to education, property, the professions, and the political world. As the growing possibility of war amplified the calls for national unity, Woolf suggested that such patriotic sentiment was illogical for women, as they played no role in the public life of the nation. She wrote:

      [Woman] will find that she has no good reason to ask her brother to fight on her behalf to protect “our” country. “‘Our country,’” she will say,...

    • 4 The Strangeness of Foreigners: Policing Migration and Nation in Interwar Marseille
      (pp. 77-108)
      Mary Dewhurst Lewis

      In April 1924, Stefan X., a young man born in Marseille to Italian immigrants, was imprisoned for failing to honor an expulsion order dating from 1920.² Protesting his imprisonment, Stefan invoked the French nationality law of 1889, which held that children born in France to foreign parents became French nationals upon reaching adulthood, provided that they remained residents of France at that time and did not repudiate their right to French nationality before a justice of the peace. Stefan, who had just passed his twenty-first birthday, argued that he was a citizen and that, as such, he could not be...

  6. II. Republican Responses and Policies since the 1960s

    • 5 Culture-as-Race or Culture-as-Culture: Caribbean Ethnicity and the Ambiguity of Cultural Identity in French Society
      (pp. 111-140)
      David Beriss

      Yes, but aren’t these people black?” This is perhaps the most common question Americans ask about my research among West Indian activists in Paris and Martinique. It is asked in a tone that suggests that the answer itself is obvious and, more than that, that the questions I ask about West Indian claims to identity would be almost moot if I were to just get that answer through my head. This question has always confused me. “It’s not that simple,” is my usual response, but the truth is that I have always suspected that these people know something about the...

    • 6 Immigration and the Salience of Racial Boundaries among French Workers
      (pp. 141-161)
      Michèle Lamont

      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...

    • 7 Anti-racism without Races: Politics and Policy in a “Color-Blind” State
      (pp. 162-188)
      Erik Bleich

      Since the end of World War II, millions of immigrants have arrived on French shores.¹ Although such an influx of foreigners has not been unusual in French history,² the origin of the post-war migrants was of a different character than that of previous eras. Prior to World War II, the vast majority of immigrants to France came from within Europe. Since 1945, however, an important percentage of migrants have come from non-European sources. Whether from former colonies in North Africa, Southeast Asia, or sub-Saharan Africa, from overseas departments and territories, or from countries such as Turkey or Sri Lanka, recent...

    • 8 A Tale of Two Countries: The Politics of Color-Blindness in France and the United States
      (pp. 189-216)
      Robert C. Lieberman

      France and the United States are commonly portrayed as proceeding from diametrically opposed presumptions in their approaches to race policy.¹ The United States, this line of argument goes, has pursued a race-conscious approach to attacking racial discrimination, developing policies such as affirmative action that offer compensatory advantages to members of historically or currently disadvantaged groups.² The American approach involves directing benefits and opportunities toward individuals who belong to discrete, identifiable groups within society. This sort of targeting, in turn, presupposes that these groups constitute legitimate political categories and that those who fall into these categories are due special consideration. French...

  7. III. New Directions in Policy

    • 9 Color-Blindness at a Crossroads in Contemporary France
      (pp. 219-226)
      Gwénaële Calvès

      According to Article 1 of the French Constitution, France is an “indivisible Republic” that “ensures equality before the law of all citizens, without distinction of origin, race, or religion.” The word “distinction” must here be understood in its original and most basic sense: current legislation prohibits—except under very restricted circumstances—labeling, classifying, or counting citizens by their religious affiliations, “racial” characteristics, or national origins. Consequently, no public or private entity (an employer, for instance) is allowed to collect such data, and no public policy may explicitly target segments of the population defined by such criteria. As for claims to...

    • 10 Half-Measures: Anti-discrimination Policy in France
      (pp. 227-245)
      Alec G. Hargreaves

      Since the Left returned to power in 1997, there have been remarkable changes in the debate over the “integration” of immigrant minorities in France. After a long period in which political elites emphasized the challenges associated with minority ethnic cultures and social disadvantage, the spotlight has shifted to the blockages arising from racial discrimination by members of the majority ethnic population. No less remarkably, there has been a significant abatement in the demonization of so-called Anglo-Saxon approaches to the management of ethnic relations, habitually branded by politicians and civil servants as the antithesis of France’srépublicainmodel of integration. Whereas...

    • 11 Affirmative Action at Sciences Po
      (pp. 246-258)
      Daniel Sabbagh

      In the United States, the phrase “affirmative action” generally refers to a wide array of measures set up at the end of the 1960s by executive agencies and the federal judiciary. These measures grant some (more or less flexible) kind of preferential treatment in the allocation of scarce resources—jobs, university admissions, and government contracts—to the members of groups formerly targeted for legal discrimination (African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, women, sometimes Asians).¹ In France, by contrast, the main operational criterion for identifying the beneficiaries of affirmative action policies (discrimination positive) is not race or gender,² but geographical location: residents...

  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 259-261)
  9. Index
    (pp. 262-266)