Baguettes, Berets and Burning Cars: The 2005 Riots and the Question of Race in Contemporary France

Baguettes, Berets and Burning Cars: The 2005 Riots and the Question of Race in Contemporary France Following the unprecedented destruction witnessed during the 2005 youth riots in France, some social commentators have suggested that the young offenders, many of whom were of immigrant descent, were tired of France's colour-blind rhetoric and were now demanding recognition of their minority status, much like some groups in the United States. However, little scholarly work has captured in any systematic way the perception of such young people. In an effort to illuminate their views, this paper draws on 12 months of ethnographic field research, beginning in September 2005, among young people, both of immigrant ancestry and ‘Franco-French’, living in the housing projects of a medium-sized French city. Noting that markers associated with class distinctions were accepted by youth as a valid form of diversity but ones having to do with race were not, I argue that these young people are just as committed to republican values as anyone else in France. Facile comparison between the American and French contexts is apt to be more misleading than helpful. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png French Cultural Studies SAGE

Baguettes, Berets and Burning Cars: The 2005 Riots and the Question of Race in Contemporary France

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Publisher
SAGE Publications
Copyright
© 2011 SAGE Publications
ISSN
0957-1558
eISSN
1740-2352
D.O.I.
10.1177/0957155810386678
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Following the unprecedented destruction witnessed during the 2005 youth riots in France, some social commentators have suggested that the young offenders, many of whom were of immigrant descent, were tired of France's colour-blind rhetoric and were now demanding recognition of their minority status, much like some groups in the United States. However, little scholarly work has captured in any systematic way the perception of such young people. In an effort to illuminate their views, this paper draws on 12 months of ethnographic field research, beginning in September 2005, among young people, both of immigrant ancestry and ‘Franco-French’, living in the housing projects of a medium-sized French city. Noting that markers associated with class distinctions were accepted by youth as a valid form of diversity but ones having to do with race were not, I argue that these young people are just as committed to republican values as anyone else in France. Facile comparison between the American and French contexts is apt to be more misleading than helpful.

Journal

French Cultural StudiesSAGE

Published: Feb 1, 2011

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