Spaces of Inclusion and Exclusion: Algerians in France

Authors: Beth Nelson*, University of South Carolina
Topics: Migration, Ethnicity and Race, Europe
Keywords: Space, Integration, Belonging, Identity, Exclusion, Algeria, France
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The geographies of Algerian immigrants and their descendants living in Paris, France illustrate landscapes of belonging and integration. While integration is often framed within the national context, the practices of this social process take place on the local level. Algerians encounter and participate in spatial strategies of belonging that involve processes of identity creation, boundary setting, interpretation of meanings and practices of social space in France. Empirical evidence from case studies highlights how Algerians structure their interactions with French society, and the geographic contexts that influence and inform those interactions. French republican ideology posits a universal public sphere and rejects displays of cultural/religious difference or ‘communalism.’ In practice, this ideology works to denigrate and marginalize Algerian-origin communities who do not share equal class, racial, religious, or legal status with the mainstream French population. This paper focuses on the ways that Algerians negotiate these bounded spaces of inclusion and exclusion in French society. For instance, the ‘public’ sphere of life in France is connected to citizenship or employment duties; followingly, the ‘French’ sphere of life is also embodied in these ‘public’ spaces like parks, schools, cafés, neighborhoods, places of worship, or the workplace. Individuals use, avoid, and often modify their behavior in these spaces in order to position themselves differently in social groups. How these spaces are coded and used to define identity and negotiate difference and sameness varies and show that space and spatial behaviors are fraught with tensions over identities and belonging and shape spatial practices.

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