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The issue of ethnicity in France, and how ethnicities are represented there visually, remains one of the most important and polemical aspects of French post-colonial politics and society. This is the first book to analyse how a range of different ethnicities have been represented across contemporary French visual culture. Via a wide series of case studies – from the worldwide hit film Amélie to France’s popular TV series Plus belle la vie – it probes how ethnicities have been represented across different media, including film, photography, television and the visual arts. Four chapters examine distinct areas of particular importance: national identity, people of Algerian heritage, Jewishness and France’s second city Marseille.

Engaging with ethnicity
Joseph McGonagle

with which Sarkozy and his government chose to dwell on both these areas and their desire to present them as profoundly linked. Moreover, the ruling UMP party’s predilection for focusing on French national identity and positioning immigration as threatening to it formed a key hallmark of Sarkozy’s presidency and was seen by critics as a deliberate strategy to attract National Front voters. The announcement by the Minister of Immigration and National Identity, Éric Besson, that he had earmarked November Changing notions of national identity 21 2009 to February

in Representing ethnicity in contemporary French visual culture
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Le Thé au harem d’Archimède and Hexagone
Carrie Tarr

French culture a concern with the hybrid identities of the beurs . In so doing they are also exploring the question of what it means to be French, testing out the permeability of French national identity and culture. As Chibane said in an interview with Libération , ‘I would say that, broadly speaking, the banlieue has not changed since 1978 and the arrival of hard drugs. The only important difference is that now we are French’ 3 (Chibane 1994 ). It is this difference, this

in Reframing difference
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Pagnol’s legacy
Brett Bowles

’s descendants), the publication of recently discovered diaries and letters, and a dual-language website ( ) that offers direct sales of those products, blog discussions, and a host of information about Pagnol. In a larger cultural perspective, the strong renewal of interest in Pagnol over the past two decades can be appreciated as a reaction against the perceived dilution of French national identity in the middle of

in Marcel Pagnol
Carrie Tarr

minority filmmakers and actors have yet to attain similar recognition. Are Kassovitz’s films appropriating black and beur culture for a trendy white youth audience (albeit one which might be sympathetic to SOS Racisme), and in the process erasing real ethnic differences and social inequalities? Or are they attempting to cross boundaries and generate new hybrid identities which offer a challenge to dominant notions of French national identity? I shall attempt to

in Reframing difference
Sharon Kinoshita

evidence. No work from the French Middle Ages is better known, or has been more argued about: it is one of the texts most likely to figure in school curricula and, since the nineteenth century, has been used to exemplify the precociousness of both medieval French literature and French national identity. More recently, it has been taken as a prime example of Orientalism or cited for its representation of racial others. This chapter explores some of the discrepancies between the Roland 's political and literary significance in the modern era and the precariousness of its

in Bestsellers and masterpieces
Open Access (free)
The Algerian war and the ‘emancipation’ of Muslim women, 1954–62

In May 1958, and four years into the Algerian War of Independence, a revolt again appropriated the revolutionary and republican symbolism of the French Revolution by seizing power through a Committee of Public Safety. This book explores why a repressive colonial system that had for over a century maintained the material and intellectual backwardness of Algerian women now turned to an extensive programme of 'emancipation'. After a brief background sketch of the situation of Algerian women during the post-war decade, it discusses the various factors contributed to the emergence of the first significant women's organisations in the main urban centres. It was only after the outbreak of the rebellion in 1954 and the arrival of many hundreds of wives of army officers that the model of female interventionism became dramatically activated. The French military intervention in Algeria during 1954-1962 derived its force from the Orientalist current in European colonialism and also seemed to foreshadow the revival of global Islamophobia after 1979 and the eventual moves to 'liberate' Muslim societies by US-led neo-imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq. For the women of Bordj Okhriss, as throughout Algeria, the French army represented a dangerous and powerful force associated with mass destruction, brutality and rape. The central contradiction facing the mobile socio-medical teams teams was how to gain the trust of Algerian women and to bring them social progress and emancipation when they themselves were part of an army that had destroyed their villages and driven them into refugee camps.

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Diana Holmes
David Looseley

tastes of the majority has not gone away. Indeed, it has re-emerged, for example with Jack Lang’s recognition of lowbrow forms and practices, or with some of the more imaginative TV programming such as the highly successful series Plus belle la vie (A Better Life). Attempts to broaden the very concept of culture have been more effective in the visual and musical spheres than in the literary, perhaps because of that sense of a uniquely serious and splendid literary tradition that is so central to French national identity. Even here, though, the gradual incorporation of

in Imagining the popular in contemporary French culture
Catherine Deneuve and 1970s political culture
Bridget Birchall

tended to play entirely fictional figures, with no connection to identifiable historical or literary sources. Her performances have thus expressed more the abstract qualities of French national identity than embodied specific examples of its manifestations. This is not unusual for women in the heritage genre: while critics such as Dyer, Pidduck and Monk have argued that the heritage genre provides a space to ‘challenge

in From perversion to purity
The battle of The Screens
Carl Lavery

Frenchman) or rather as a European. (Genet, in Bougon, 1998 : 137–8; trans. Susan Marson) Taking the above words into account, it seems reasonable to suggest that what Genet was trying to do with his play was to make visible the fault-line – the wound – that the Algerian War had opened in French society. As I described above, Algeria was always more than a localised struggle for national independence; it was a signifier for a new way of thinking about French national identity in an era of decolonisation. Where the Gaullists and extreme right clashed, ideologically

in The politics of Jean Genet’s late theatre