Identities, discourses and experiences

Young people of North African origin in France

Author: Nadia Kiwan

France has an established reputation as a country of immigration and has received numerous waves of immigrants from the nineteenth century onwards. This book aims to focus on one of these immigrant groups or, rather, on the French-born descendants of North African immigrants of Muslim origin. It looks at three levels of discourse relating to North African immigrants and their descendants. First, the increasingly politicised issue of immigration in France since the 1980s can be seen as just one level of discourse concerning North African immigrants and their descendants. A second level of discourse can be found in the intellectual debates of the last twenty-five years, which have often taken on a rather ideological character. One of the central ideas underpinning the book is the notion of a disjuncture between the main preoccupations of the public and intellectual debates and the experiences of the people concerned. Therefore, by studying the construction of identity among young people of North African origin, the book aims to concentrate on the register of experience. That is, by adopting an empirical or a 'bottom-up' approach, the apparent disjuncture between the various discourses about young people of North African origin and their experiences can be addressed. The views expressed by the young people themselves can be regarded as the third layer of 'discourse' to be examined in the book.

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