In Ethnic Minority Women’s Writing in France, Mouflard argues that the identity politics surrounding the immigration discourse of early twenty-first century France were reflected in the marketing and editing practices of the Metropole’s key publishers, specifically with regards to non-white French women’s literature. Echoing the utopic “Black-Blanc-Beur” model of integration which surfaced during the 1998 soccer World Cup, select publishers fashioned unofficial literary categories based on neocolonial racial and gender stereotypes, either lauding integrated “Beur” authors or exploiting “Black” political dissenters. Concurrently, metropolitan women writers in their autobiographies, autofictions, and manifestoes, problematized notions of French multiculturalism and literary hierarchies, thereby exposing the dangers of utopian thinking. Mouflard ultimately reveals that the absence of the Franco-Vietnamese identity from the “Black-Blanc-Beur” paradigm enabled authors of Southeastern Asian origin to establish themselves outside of the era’s reductive multicultural utopia, within a realm directly adjacent to littérature française, if not in a newly-designed, truly multicultural French literature category. Overall, Mouflard’s research highlights the discrepancies between France’s official discourse on immigration, and the actual identity formation processes created by the institutions and exploited by influential publishers, in the years leading to the historic 2005 banlieue civil unrest.
Claire Mouflard is assistant professor of French and Francophone studies at Hamilton College.
Introduction: The “Black-Blanc-Beur” Utopia and the Autobiographical Response
Chapter 1: Utopia, Paratexts, and Publishers
Chapter 2: “Beur,” “Banlieue Victims,” and “Intégrées:” Samira Bellil, Nina Bouraoui, Nora Hamdi
Chapter 3: “Black,” “Afro-French,” and “Évoluées:” Calixthe Beyala, Bessora, Fatou Diome
Chapter 4: Franco-Vietnamese Literature: The Unspoken Making of Anna Moï and Linda Lê
Conclusion: Beyond “Black-Blanc-Beur:” Negotiating Labels and “littérature-monde”
Engaging, incisive, and carefully argued, Ethnic Minority Women’s Writing in France offers an important overview of France’s postcolonial legacy, as it aims to expose the country’s multicultural mirage inherently tied to its patriarchal values. By focusing on the gendered publishing practices of the French 1998-2005 era—from the euphoric Black-Blanc-Beur years of the post-1998 French soccer World Cup win to the 2005 French banlieue riots exposing a less glorious side of French history—Claire Mouflard offers a timely contribution to our current racial and gender reckoning.
Ethnic Minority Women’s Writing in France: Publishing Practices and Identity Formation (1998-2005) blends an ambitious range of theoretical approaches with compelling archival research, and offers a timely intervention in the notion of the “Bleu-Blanc-Beur” utopia years spanning France’s 1998 World Cup victory to the 2005 banlieue riots. With its sharp focus on autobiographical and auto-fictional narratives by Samira Bellil, Nina Bouraoui, Nora Hamdi, Calixthe Beyala, Bessora, Fatou Diome, Anna Moï and Linda Lê, Ethnic Minority Women’s Writing in France brings valuable new insight into the ways literary and political institutions construct neocolonial stereotypes of ethnic women minorities, and the strategies these writers use to contest them.
Claire Mouflard’s book successfully connects key events in recent French history with literary practices to shed light on the increasing importance of post-migratory cultures in France today. By focusing on a specific period (from the 1998 World Cup victory to the riots of 2005), she shows in detail how French culture has been redefined by minorities from the country’s former colonies. A rich and perceptive book for anybody interested in postcolonial studies and gender in contemporary France.