Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture

By Alex Hughes; Keith Reader | Go to book overview

See also: autobiography; beur cinema; immigration


Further reading

b
Bonn, C. (ed.) (1995), 'Littératures des immigrations 1: un espace littéraire émergent', Études littéraires maghrébines, Paris: L'Harmattan (includes recent articles on beur writing).

h
Hargreaves, A. (1991) Voices from the North African Community in France: Immigration and Identity in Beur Fiction, Oxford: Berg (a useful account of beur writing in the 1980s).

l
Laronde, M. (1993) Autour du roman beur, immigration et identité, Paris: L'Harmattan (a semiotic approach to selected novels, including those of Sebbar and Zitouni).

beurs

The word beur was coined in the late 1970s by young 'second-generation' immigrants of North African origin living in the Parisian suburbs (banlieues), and is usually understood to have been derived from verlan (backslang) for arabe. Originally adopted to counteract the negative connotations of arabe and musulman in France (the result of France's former colonial role in the Maghreb), the word also usefully indicated the hybrid identity of the 'second generation', born or brought up in France but neither fully French nor fully Arab (or Berber).

The product of increased family immigration in the 1970s, the beurs were often torn between the Islamic values and expectations of their working-class Maghrebin parents and the majority culture, a situation exacerbated by conflicting nationality laws and the growth of racism. Many members of the North African community in France now experience the word beur-once an empowering term-as a pejorative, homogenizing label imposed by the majority. As Mouloud says in Bye bye, 'Ne m'appelez pas Beur, le mot me fait horreur'. Alternatives like the cumbersome d'origine maghrébine or issu de l'immigration maghrébine, the often inaccurate arabo-français, or the alternative verlan word Rebeu, indicate the continuing problematic status of beurs and beurettes in relation to contemporary French culture and identity.

The emergence of the word beur, coinciding with the appearance of Radio Beur in 1981, is linked with the political and cultural mobilization of the 'second generation'. Their first protests against French racism, unjust laws, deportation orders and police violence were Rock Against Police concerts. When Mitterrand's new administration granted immigrants the right to free association, the resulting movement laid the foundation for beur activism and promoted beur creativity in music, writing, cinema, theatre, dance and fashion. The need for action against institutionalized racism was highlighted by the police shooting of a beur activist, Toumi, in the Minguettes estate (Vaux-en-Velin) in 1983. A March Against Racism and for Equality, organized by local youths and the priest Christian Delorme, set off from Marseille to Paris, where it mobilized 100,000 demonstrators and was received by President Mitterrand. Significantly, the media renamed it the March of the Beurs, marking a high point in the beurs' visibility and acceptability but also the recuperation of the word and the movement.

The march was followed by attempts to organize on a national level and by Convergence 84, a multiethnic demonstration in favour of equality and citizenship. Plagued by internal dissent, hopes for a national beur-led organization were dashed by the setting-up of SOS Racisme, France-Plus and the JALB (Jeunes Arabes de Lyon et sa Banlieue), headed by Djida Tazdaït. SOS Racisme, funded by the Socialists and headed until 1992 by Harlem Désir (of West Indian origin), successfully mobilized a multiethnic youth movement with its slogan 'Touche pas à mon pote' (Hands off my mate), but focused on combating the rise of Le Pen and the Front National rather than addressing the specific grievances of the beurs. France-Plus, led by Arezki Dahmani, tried to mobilize the beurs as an electoral force and lobby for citizenship rights, but its policy of

-70-

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Encyclopedia of Contemporary French Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface x
  • Introduction xi
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Classified Contents List xiv
  • A 1
  • Further Reading 3
  • Further Reading 13
  • Further Reading 18
  • Further Reading 26
  • Further Reading 27
  • Further Reading 30
  • B 44
  • Further Reading 66
  • Further Reading 70
  • Major Works 79
  • C 85
  • Further Reading 91
  • Further Reading 99
  • Further Reading 111
  • Further Reading 113
  • D 135
  • Further Reading 144
  • Further Reading 150
  • Major Works 152
  • E 168
  • Further Reading 194
  • F 197
  • Further Reading 200
  • Further Reading 207
  • Major Works 214
  • Further Reading 245
  • G 252
  • Further Reading 279
  • Further Reading 280
  • H 283
  • I 290
  • Further Reading 297
  • J 302
  • Further Reading 303
  • Major Works 307
  • K 310
  • Further Reading 317
  • L 318
  • Major Works 324
  • Major Works 325
  • M 350
  • Further Reading 352
  • Further Reading 354
  • Major Works 364
  • Further Reading 379
  • Further Reading 380
  • N 388
  • Further Reading 397
  • O 401
  • P 404
  • Further Reading 419
  • Major Works 424
  • Q 449
  • R 450
  • Further Reading 462
  • Further Reading 469
  • Major Works 470
  • Major Works 472
  • Further Reading 474
  • S 478
  • Further Reading 484
  • Further Reading 508
  • T 515
  • U 540
  • V 544
  • Further Reading 549
  • Further Reading 554
  • W 555
  • Further Reading 560
  • X 568
  • Y 569
  • Index 572
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