Deconstructing the Nation: Immigration, Racism and by Maxim Silverman

By Maxim Silverman

Deconstructing the state examines the relationship among racism and the advance of the geographical region in smooth France. the writer increases vital questions on the character of citizenship rights in glossy French society and contributes to wider eu debates on citizenship. through hard the myths of the trendy French state Maxim Silverman opens up the talk on questions of immigration, racism, the state and citizenship in France to non-French talking readers. until eventually rather lately those issues have principally been overlooked through researchers in Britain and the united states. although, eu integration has made it necessary to glance past nationwide frontiers. the key a part of his research matters the interval from the top of the Sixties to the start of the Nineteen Nineties. but modern advancements are put in a historic context: first via a attention of the development of the fashionable query of immigration because the moment half the 19th century, and moment via a survey of political, monetary and social advancements in view that 1945. There are analyses of the main debates on nationality in 1987 and the headband' affair of 1989. ultimately questions of immigration, racism and citizenship are thought of in the framework of eu integration.

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Extra info for Deconstructing the Nation: Immigration, Racism and Citizenship in Modern France (Critical Studies in Racism and Migration)

Sample text

Assimilation and difference have been constructed as polar opposites; however, the reality might be more complex. Furthermore, this dualist historiography of the nation has very clear repercussions for the question of immigration today, since contemporary policy and debate on immigration are trapped in the paradigm of assimilation and difference. This dichotomy needs to be thoroughly reappraised in a way that goes far beyond questioning the opposition between ‘the French’ and ‘immigrants’. At the heart of the modern project of nation-building is not the opposition between but the ambivalence of assimilation and difference.

I would suggest that, contrary to Renan’s claim that it is necessary to distinguish between ‘race’ and nation to avoid confusion, it is precisely the distinction itself which is the cause of the confusion. Benedict Anderson (1983:136) is surely wrong when he maintains that 24 Deconstructing the nation racism and nationalism have separate histories and natures (cf. Gilroy 1987:44–5; Miles 1987b). Even if it is true that their origins and early history were different, this does not preclude their profound and complex articulation during the nineteenth century (in the same way—and at the same time—as the convergence of the nation, the state and citizenship, which also have different origins and early history).

In fact, Renan’s thought, like that of many others, was marked by conflicting traditions of the time, which Martin Thorn has referred to as those of ethnographic Indo-Europeanism, on the one hand, and a rationalist ‘classicism’, on the other (Thorn 1990). There are traces of both of these discourses in the 1882 lecture. This is perhaps the reason for the ambivalence of the term culture in defining the nation. This ambivalence could be found in both the anti-Jacobinism of Renan and the Jacobinism of the Left.

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