Saskia Huc-Hepher
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The Introduction sets the scene for the book thematically, historically, empirically and methodologically. It draws attention to the ambivalent and processual nature of French mobility to London and to the geographic and demographic heterogeneity of the community. It provides a brief overview of past and present French contributions to life in the British capital and argues that this cultural legacy affords the diaspora a select status which conceals its inherent complexity. The Introduction establishes that this ‘messy middle ground’ forms the focus of the book. Using a series of language- and residence-based maps, it supports the contention that the London-French community extends beyond the South Kensington elite. Research participants are shown to be from myriad areas of France and beyond, to inhabit a range of neighbourhoods in London and to hold a diverse range of professions. The Introduction argues that they are in a perpetual state of paradox, simultaneously rejecting France/French ‘mentalities’ and London-French community belonging yet reasserting their Frenchness through shared homemaking practices. Due to this twofold reproduction of premigration practices and embracing of local habits, the migrants’ integration into/of the local culture and consequent habitus transformation are deemed only ever partial. The Introduction also considers matters of reflexivity, methods and ethics. It establishes the rationale behind the blended ethnographic approach, the insider–outsider positioning of the author and the mixed methods deployed. Finally, it provides a structural and thematic overview of the book as a whole, summarising the key aspects of each chapter.

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French London

A blended ethnography of a migrant city


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