"A postcolonial urban apartheid": Two anthropologists on the riots in France
In their Anthropology News May article Urban Violence and Civil Rights in Postcolonial France, Paul A Silverstein
and Chantal Tetreault analyse the riots in France in november 2005.
French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced a “state of emergency” across over a quarter of the nation:
Deploying this law, an instrument of colonial governance, both challenged the basic civil rights of France’s suburban citizens and revealed an enduring logic of colonial rule. Like colonial settler cities, contemporary French urban centers cast their impoverished peripheries as culturally, if not racially, distinct.
The anthropologists are not surprised over the riots:
Nearly every euro France has saved by “tightening the belt” on the public sector has been redeployed into the forces of security. Every attempt at “integrating” (or “civilizing”) underclass residents of the cités has been undermined by policing practices that continue to demarcate these populations as racially and spatially “other.”
The result is a form of postcolonial urban apartheid, in which the French state is equated with repression by many cité inhabitants. The October-November violence reflected this unity of social marginalization and anti-police sentiment. In the end, the French state’s treatment of its own citizenry as racially suspect and intrinsically violent—as potential enemies within—may prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
>> read the whole article in Anthropology News (Link updated, was removed)