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Identities in flux in French literature, television, and film

Christiane Taubira's spirited invocation of colonial poetry at the French National Assembly in 2013 denounced the French politics of assimilation in Guyana . It was seen as an attempt to promote respect for difference, defend the equality of gay and heterosexual rights, and give a voice to silent social and cultural minorities. Taubira's unmatched passion for poetry and social justice, applied to the current Political arena, made her an instant star in the media and on the Internet. This book relates to the mimetic and transformative powers of literature and film. It examines literary works and films that help deflate stereotypes regarding France's post-immigration population, promote a new respect for cultural and ethnic minorities. The writers and filmmakers examined in the book have found new ways to conceptualize the French heritage of immigration from North Africa and to portray the current state of multiculturalism in France. The book opens with Steve Puig's helpful recapitulation of the development of beur, banlieue, and urban literatures, closely related and partly overlapping taxonomies describing the cultural production of second-generation, postcolonial immigrants to France. Discussing the works of three writers, the book discusses the birth of a new Maghrebi-French women's literature. Next comes an examination of how the fictional portrayal of women in Guene's novels differs from the representation of female characters in traditional beur literature. The book also explores the development of Abdellatif Kechiche's cinema, Djaidani's film and fiction, French perception of Maghrebi-French youth, postmemorial immigration, fiction, and postmemory and identity in harki.

Susan Ireland

Many of those who managed to flee to France found themselves isolated in temporary housing camps, felt abandoned by the French, and were often rejected by Algerian immigrants who had supported the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN). The presence of the harkis in France first manifested itself in the public arena in other domains. The presence of harkis in films made before 2000 reflects the different phases of harki activism and literary production and presents interesting parallels with the nature and evolution of films on the Algerian War in general. Few fiction films depicting the war were made in the 1980s and 1990s, and the harkis generally played only a very minor role in those produced by majority-French directors. It remains to be seen whether any films made in the coming years will propose alternative scripts or delineate different ways of being a harki in France.

in Reimagining North African Immigration
Samuel Zaoui’s Saint Denis bout du monde
Mireille Le Breton

This chapter examines how the encounter between the three old Maghrebi men and the main protagonist, Souhad, disturbs their socially preordained, negative trajectory. She embarks with them on a 'road trip' to retrace their steps by traveling from Saint Denis to Algeria via Marseille. Samuel Zaoui's fictionalized oral history, à la Jacques Le Goff, explores the trope of the return to the ancestral land and the simultaneous journey of self-discovery: revenir pour devenir. The chapter focuses on how the contemporary French novel rewrites memories of immigration in France to focus on new possibilities for reconciliation, as the genre itself may become a 'place of memory'. The road trip that lies at the heart of the novel is planned by the protagonists and will help reconstruct history, which in turn will allow for the construction of an appeased collective memory.

in Reimagining North African Immigration
Mona El Khoury

Rengaine, Rachid Djaïdani's first feature-length film not only expands on 1980s and 1990s works by Maghrebi-French directors, but is quite original in the themes it tackles. Indeed, if Djaïdani's film shares 'a concern with the place and identity of the marginal and excluded in France', it innovates through its focus on minority racism and its treatment of identity construction. The original choice of telling a philosophical tale to discuss real and urgent sociocultural issues and bridge over cultural, religious, ethnic, and gender differences is a reflection of Rachid Djaïdani's personal and professional heterogeneous profile. This chapter discusses the friction of the two paths and the meaning of the 'tale' Rengaine. Djaïdani's criticism of racist and heteronormative discourse falls within the heated debate about the legalization of homosexual marriage in France.

in Reimagining North African Immigration
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Out-marching exclusion and hatred
Jimia Boutouba

Democratic politics lies in what one does rather than in what one receives or is entitled to. Young men and women became massively involved in the fight against racism and for civil rights and for a new definition of citizenship. This stressed socialization based on plural belongings, the promotion of sociocultural integration in the suburbs, and the mobilization against police brutality and judicial discrimination. This chapter demonstrates how the film La Marche presents the youths' story as a troubled relationship with home and the march as political praxis and a metaphor for homecoming. Increasing police brutality and repression by private citizens culminated in the assassination of hundreds of immigrants. La Marche offers a visual history that seeks to recover the liveliness of a multidimensional world by reconstructing the way historical people witnessed, understood, experienced, and sensed the past.

in Reimagining North African Immigration
Postmemory and identity in harki and pied noir narratives
Véronique Machelidon

This chapter establishes the validity of a comparison between works belonging to seemingly different genres. "Postmemory" describes the relationship that the "generation after" bears to the personal, collective, and cultural trauma of those who came before to experiences they "remember" only by means of the stories, images, and behaviors among which they grew up. Through their respective mnemonic work, both Dalila Kerchouche's and Thierry Galdeano's narrators seek to humanize the father and with him the collectivity he represents, whether harki or pied noir. Galdeano's overall intent is to pay tribute to the long sufferings of the harkis in France and give them a visible platform to claim recognition for their sacrifices. Kerchouche's reluctance to bring in pied noir memories of the Algerian War and expatriation may well be in part a firm refusal to compromise with pied noir ideology and its belief in an idealized colonial society.

in Reimagining North African Immigration