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By Mireille Rosello

A groundbreaking textual content on multicultural concerns in modern France.

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Additional resources for Declining the Stereotype: Ethnicity and Representation in French Cultures (Contemporary French Culture and Society)

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Page 2 France is therefore implicitly asked to give a schizoid self-portrait of its current fears and anxieties, as well as its hopes and optimism. It is no secret that the social fabric of late twentieth-century France is a patchwork of races and ethnic groups that does not unanimously celebrate diversity. If French suburbs are, on paper, a wonderfully multiracial melting pot, a theoretical celebration of hybridity, the reality of the encounter between different races, religions, and cultures is far from peaceful and harmonious.

The paradoxical violence of stereotypes uttered in public is that they are often presented as a chance to make us prove our loyalty to the speaker but also as an opportunity to be accepted as part of a group. Here is an open invitation to belong, to be welcomed by a supposedly unanimous community. Here is a chance to declare your allegiance, as if that moment of decision itself constituted some powerful moment of ecstatic communion. In the presence of a stereotype, you are asked implicitly or explicitly to approve, to agree, to nod, and to feel understood and properly positioned as a legitimate member of a group whose identity is well defined and legitimately celebrated.

I am grateful to Madeleine Cottenet-Hage for inviting me to explore the links between stereotypes and delinquency, to Larry Kriztman for making me think about history and stereotypes, and to Jonathan Hart for giving me a wonderful reason to think about the relationship between stereotypes and gifts. Thanks to Michel Laronde for encouraging me to work on Emile Ajar and Didier Van Cauwelaert and for his own research on stereotypes. I much benefited from the brilliant feedback I received from colleagues and students in conferences and seminars.

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