Getting inside the French mind

Paul Silverstein and Chantal Tetreault, Middle East Report Online, November 2005:

“The colonial law’s deployment in response to the present crisis points to an enduring logic of colonial rule within post-colonial metropolitan France. Like settler cities of the colonial period, contemporary French urban centres function in opposition to their impoverished peripheries, the latter being consistently presented in the media, state policy and popular speech as culturally, if not racially, different from mainstream France. The application of a last-ditch instrument of colonial governance indicates a set of structural tensions within, if not the ultimate failure of, the French state’s self-congratulatory colonial ‘civilizing mission’ turned postcolonial ‘integrating mission.’

“For the last 50 years, the state has sought to transform the children of immigrants and other members of the suburban underclass into productive and well-adjusted Frenchmen, all the while bemoaning their resistance to being so transformed. The state has simultaneously worried aloud, to a public obsessed with security, about the immigrants’ suspect stability and potential for violence.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common