Women, Immigration and Identities in France

Women, Immigration and Identities in France

Women, Immigration and Identities in France

Women, Immigration and Identities in France

Synopsis

This book is the first to address the relationship between gender and immigration in contemporary France and the political and personal issues that affect women of immigrant origin. Focusing on the social and political aspects of women's lives, the book investigates how they are affected by racism and changes in citizenship laws and explores the strategies they use to combat exclusion through movements such as the 'sans-papiers'.Authors go on to discuss ways in which immigrant women and their daughters negotiate their changing cultural identities in relation to their communities of origin and their positions in France, with reference to the Magrebhi family and attitudes to the Islamic headscarf.These issues are further developed through analyses of women's cultural production across a wide range of media, from the writing of Vietnamese women to 'Beur' Filmmaking, including Yamina Benguigui's highly acclaimed documentary Memoires d'Immigres.Combining a range of case studies and practical data with a theoretical overview of the topic, this is an important reference work for anyone studying postcolonial France and the role of women within it.

Excerpt

This book arises from a day conference on ‘Women and Ethnicities: Identities and Representations’ that we organized at the Institute of Romance Studies (IRS), London (UK) in November 1998. a number of the essays gathered in this volume were originally given as papers at the conference; others were specially commissioned in order to extend the range of issues addressed and provide a coherent basis for further research and teaching in the area. the conference itself was prompted by a meeting of Women in French, which felt that a gendered approach to the understanding of ethnic minority experiences in France needed to be developed and articulated. Research into immigration, ethnicity and identity has tended to take the experiences of immigrant and ‘second generation’ men as paradigmatic of the experiences of immigrants more generally. This book’ s multidisciplinary analysis of post-colonial immigration and identities centres specifically on the experiences and cultural productions of women immigrants and their second (and now third) generation daughters.

Immigration and ethnicity studies are rightly preoccupied with issues of language and naming, symptomatic of the relations of power between majority and minority cultures. in our introduction, we discuss the problematic (and often inaccurate) use of the term ‘immigrant’ in France. We want here to register our difficulties in deciding how to refer to women ‘of immigrant origin’ and their children, members of the ‘second generation’. This is particularly the case with regard to those of North African or Maghrebi (Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan) origin (we have opted for Maghrebi rather than Maghrebian), the generic ‘Maghrebi’ being itself problematic in that it does not refer to a specific place of origin. Furthermore, the word ‘Beur’, commonly used to describe the sons and daughters of first generation ‘Maghrebi’ immigrants (a word which derives from Parisian backslang for ‘Arabe’ and was first coined by the ‘Beurs’ themselves) is one that they now often disclaim (Durmelat, 1998). the feminine derivative, the diminutive ‘Beurette’, is particularly patronizing and offensive. Since there are no easy alternatives, however, we have decided to use the terms ‘Beur’ and ‘Beurette’ in inverted commas to signal the way they have been appropriated by dominant discourses.

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