Based on several years of ethnographic fieldwork, French London provides rare insights into the everyday lived experience of a diverse group of French citizens who have chosen to make London home. From sixth-form students to an octogenarian divorcee, hospitality to hospital staff, and second-generation onward migrants to returnees, the individual trajectories described are disparate but connected by a ‘common-unity’ of practice. Despite most not self-identifying with a ‘community’ identity, this heterogenous migrant group are shown to share many homemaking characteristics and to enact their belonging in common ways. Whether through the contents of their kitchens, their reasons for migrating to London or their evolving attitudes to education and healthcare, participants are seen to embody a distinct form of London-Frenchness. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieu’s theories of ‘symbolic violence’ and ‘habitus’, inventively deconstructed into its component parts of habitat, habituation and habits, the book reveals how structural forces in France and early encounters with ‘otherness’ underpin mobility, and how long-term settlement is performed as a pre-reflexive process. It deploys an original blended ethnographic lens to understand the intersection between the on-land and online in contemporary mobility, providing a rich description of migrants’ material and digital habitats. With ‘Brexit’ on the horizon and participants subsequently revisited in a post-referendum Epilogue, the monograph demonstrates the appeal of London prior to 2016 and the disruption to the migrants’ identity and belonging since. It offers an unprecedented window onto the intimate lifeworlds of an under-researched diaspora at a crucial point in Britain’s history.
large extent a fait accompli.
Michael Peter Smith contends that migrants are ‘classed, raced and gendered bodies in motion in specific historical contexts’ (2005: 238) and should hence be apprehended within these situated and embodied time–space frameworks. Placing my own experiential knowledge of the community on a historic backdrop, it is clear why recent studies refer to the French, like the Italians, as ‘valuable’, ‘“old” EU migrants’ (Lulle et al ., 2018 : 2). The tangible legacy of the Frenchdiaspora in London since at least the seventeenth century is
Guérilleros en France (F.F.I.),
no. 103, September 2006.
36 For details of a Spanish republican memory association in the Lot-etGaronne see S. Soo, ‘Putting Memory to Work: A Comparative Study of
Three Associations Dedicated to the Memory of the Spanish Republican
Exile in France’, Diasporas. Histoires et sociétés, 6 (2005), pp. 110, 117–20.
37 Memory activities in this region of France have not always been inclusive.
The chapter ‘Uneasy Commemorations’ in S. Ott, War, Judgement, and
Memory in the Basque Borderlands, 1914–1945 (Reno, NV, 2008), pp. 172–86
encouragement to historical research, it
would stand as a ‘national monument’ and bear witness to the
Académie des Inscriptions’ labours to encourage serious studies
which contributed so much ‘to the glory and intellectual improvement of France’.26
Beside the general national agenda, the Recueil confirmed the
focus on the ‘colonies chrétiens en Palestine’. There were no texts
about crusades in Spain or the Baltic or on the Albigensian
Crusade (a clearly less than irenic French historical memory). The
perceived medieval Frenchdiaspora received official and popular
Blended understandings of symbolic forces in London-French education on-land and on-line
. Indeed, William Berthomière’s attempt to map the connected Frenchdiaspora, referred to by the author as a ‘A French What?’ (Berthomière, 2012 : 1) bears witness to their perceived ‘non-histoire’ ( 2012 : 1). As Retis and Tsagarousianou demonstrate, given that European policies have developed ‘a hierarchy of suffering that distinguishes between migrants defined as at risk and therefore in need of protection and care, or a risk to the integrity of the territory, economy, and culture of European countries’ (Retis and Tsagarousianou, 2019 : 7; original emphasis
). Lastly, the prominence is explicable in terms of my own belonging within a London-French family, set within a wider national French preoccupation with food, now formally recognised by UNESCO. Conversations with my French friends and family inevitably turn towards the culinary, irrespective of the point of departure; similarly, they have surreptitiously entered this ethnography. It is thus quite natural, and in keeping with the habitus of the London-Frenchdiaspora under scrutiny, that food and drink, as cultural objects and practices, should play a key role in the