"Dissimulating & landscaping racism: sexuality, intersectionality, and neo-orientalism in French discourses "

  • Fatima Khemilat Sciences-Po Aix


In this article, I explore the links between marginalized territories, French “banlieues” and negative representations, biased media coverage and structural discrimination towards the (alleged or real) immigrant from North Africa, and therefore presumably Muslim population. I argue that racism becomes reshaped through the defense of supposed republican values as women’s rights, freedom of speech, and the combating of anti-Semitism. Furthermore, I illustrate how French banlieues and their poor and working-class first- and second-generation migrants of Muslim background come to embody the “lost territories of the Republic.” This research is based on media and discourse analysis of public presentations of these bodies and spaces as emblematic of the social stigmas of unemployment, gender and sexual violence, involvement in the drug trade, and receipt of welfare. This article is concerned with how urban spaces can trace the symbolic and material boundaries of gender, racial and economic discrimination. Its findings are critical and necessary for better understanding the current popular process---and its consequences---whereby stereotypes are reinforced by an aesthetic and politics of “speaking the truth” and “anti- PC” rhetoric nowadays in France and globally in West Europe. Finally, this article endeavors to analyze the geographic relationship between political activity and cultural practices in urban landscapes.