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Suddenly, at least to me, the ESF, European Science Foundation, pops up everywhere with interesting conferences and seminars. I’ve already applied for Home, Migration and the City: New Narratives, New Methodologies, a combination of themes which matches perfectly with my research. Now, I aim for an extremely interesting seminar in Paris, which appears equally made for my research perspective, but at the same time is very challenging. The perfect match is that they want to look at two differing approaches to incorporation of immigrants in Europe (one focused on social/cultural integration the other on (anti-)discrimination measures), a comparison which is very similar to my aim of comparing the two different philosophies of social integration in (“multicultural”) Britain and (republican) France. The challenge is that their research is quantitative! Quantitative methods in the Social Sciences: Immigration and Population dynamics: Measuring Integration and Discrimination. Do they want my qualitative approach? I doubt it, but I’m going to try anyway. Besides, the precision they demand from the use of concepts is a very gratifying challenge:
Another presentation which I blatantly will fail to give (see this post), were to take place at a conference in Oxford in about one week’s time, Encounters and Intersections: Religion, Diaspora and Ethnicities.
The problematics of this paper give me the opportunity to look at two other aspect of the space created during a slam session: the particular quality of the encounters taking place. While only a very few of the participants talked explicitly about the political and subversive character of the slam phenomenon (see previous post), many more will describe it as a quite unique place for encounters. This is thus more of a native’s point of view than what is treated in the previous post. The ways many people describe the soirées echoes in my opinion important values of the French Republic. This is the next aspect I’ll introduce in the analysis of the space created during a session. In the previous post, I looked in the direction of connections between the local socio-political environment of the city and the soirées, in this it’s the connections between the soirées and the Republic herself I postulate. These problematics will go into chapter 2 and Chapter 5 (see the outline at the end of this post). Here’s my abstract for the conference:
Parisian performance poetry: a republican space for encounters?
In this paper, I will explore the space for encounters created during Parisian slam poetry sessions. Many participants characterise this performance poetry scene as a medium for rencontres (encounters) of people of different backgrounds. The sessions are among the most mixed events one can find in France, in terms of social and ethnic background as well as age and gender. It can thus be seen as an arch expression of the French republican ideal of mixité sociale and the value of vivre ensemble (“living together” – a term with similarities to the British notion of “community cohesion”).
The performances treat a vide variety of issues, expressed with a variety of different artistic styles, from rap to French traditional poetry via experimental theatre. However, seen from a British multiculturally inspired paradigm, the issues of collective religious or ethnic identities are conspicuously absent.
I will place the poetry sessions within the socio-political geography of East Paris (a popular, bohemian and increasingly gentrified area shaped by immigration) and the French republican paradigm of social integration. The paper is based on 16 months of fieldwork in East Paris. In addition, I will draw on my previous research project on British Asians in London.
Department of Social Anthropology/Cultural Complexity in the New Norway
Postboks 1091 Blindern
Cicilie Fagerlid is working on her PhD thesis with the preliminary title Society in the Making: Post Colonial Paris and the Slam Poetry Scene. She is employed at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Complexity in the New Norway, strategic research programme, both at the University of Oslo.
In the second part of my presentation, I moved on to the particular field where I hung around and conducted anthropological fieldwork proper; thus participated as I observed or vice versa. As some will already know, that field is a slam poetry scene in Paris. I’ve written about it here already, and I’ll surely return to it, so I’ve not found it worth translating that part of my presentation here. Instead, I’ll reflect a little around the comparison I’m intending to make between the slam poetry phenomenon in Paris and the cultural expressions which constituted a core element in my study in London. In the third and final part of this post, I’ll try to recall the questions I got after my presentation.
I don’t have the habit of commenting news here, but an article in Der Spiegel (English version, link by Erkan’s fielddiary) caught my attention. First I didn’t really understand what it was about; natality rate in Germany going down…? Yes, that was obviously the case, but I was soon to discover that this was not the main challenge presented in the article. Further down I read that: “German pre-schools will soon be filling up with children who are neither German nor Christian.” Got to change your naturalisation procedures then, I thought.
But as I read on, I understood that changing the way German nationality is obtained wouldn’t help: “Germans are not only dying out, but they're slowly being replaced by non-Germans.” And so on. (“Will the German national anthem one day be sung in Turkish?”).
I should in fact have got the clue from the title “On becoming Un-German”. And curiously, I should also have got the clue from a news reportage I’d watched just a few minutes before. It was about the children born to French women and German soldiers during World War 2. The reporter said that the ideology of Nazism didn’t encourage the Germans to have relations with the French women, who contrary to the Danes and Norwegians, were seen as abâtardi (“degenerated”, from “bastard”).
A similar discourse on “Norwegians” slowly being replaced by “non-Norwegains” is present in Norway as well. One can say many things on the republican notion of French identity, but at least it’s not overtly racialised. Thus, I doubt that a text like the one in Der Spiegel could have been written in a major French newspaper.