Is France afraid of her others? By looking back at the discourses and practices that have been formed over the last fifteen years, Sarah Mazouz addresses French politics of alterity. Drawing on an ethnographic survey conducted in both public administrations in charge of combating racial discrimination and in naturalisation offices in a large city in the Paris region, she shows how immigration, nation, and racialisation are articulated in the social space. Through the analysis of these two public offices, Mazouz questions the processes of inclusion and exclusion within the national group itself and between the national and the foreigner. In so doing, she seeks to grasp the paradoxical relationship between the French Republic and her others and the plural logics producing national order.
Sarah Mazouz has a PhD in sociology from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and is a tenured researcher at the CNRS (French National Centre for Scientific Research).
Rachel Gomme is a a translator, researcher, and artist based in London.
1 Raising the Issue of Racial Discrimination: How Recognition Remained Incomplete
2 Discrimination Politics: The State, Limited, and Ambivalent
3 Put to the Test by the Nation: Administrative Practices and Experiences of Naturalization
4 French, and Yet Other: Naturalization Ceremonies, or the Paradox of the Category ‘Naturalized’
One of the most innovative scholars on race and racialisation in France, Sarah Mazouz brilliantly revisits the recent history of its politics against discrimination, between official recognition and insidious denial, and analyses through acute ethnographic lenses French naturalisation practices, with their achievements and ambiguities.
This book analyzes the paradox of a French universalism that works through particularizing, essentializing the other, and creating an interiorizing ‘racializing ascription’—a color blind ideology that produces the very racism that it denies. Full of rich ethnographic detail and powerful vignettes, Sarah Mazouz brilliantly lays bare the mechanisms of contemporary French racisms. I am delighted to see this English translation bringing the book to a wider audience and recommend it very highly to all those interested in race and racism.
The Politics of Alterity is a fascinating, subtle, and astute exploration of how ‘otherness’ is produced. Its well-researched and careful analysis of such dynamics in France will resonate in many other settings and be of real use to students of the play of difference everywhere.