Race, Privilege, and Mobility: A case study of high school youth in the Parisian banlieue of Mantes-la-Jolie

Authors: Raymond Jennings*,
Topics: Ethnicity and Race
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/10/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 19
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Although becoming more widespread, the use of racial categories and racialized discourse in France remains highly controversial, is largely forbidden, and continues to be mandated as such by the French government. As a result, racial and ethnic identity come under heavy scrutiny by individuals who attempt to employ them. However, several scholars have pointed to a racialized reality visible across employment, housing, and public space amongst other arenas. Previous scholarship has underlined the pervasive nature of privilege and mobility in combating ideologies of color blindness and discourses of post-racialism on the one hand and exposing processes of racialization on the other. In this paper, I seek to understand how race, privilege, and mobility intersect in the French context where I employ a mixed-methods research design utilizing questionnaires and engaging in multiple focus group sessions with high school students from various ethnic and racial backgrounds in the Parisian suburb of Mantes la Jolie. I examine how youth in this context experience movement and how their movement can be governed and informed by the social construction of space in relation to their racialized identities. With a better sense of where, how often, why and why not, I conclude in theorizing the possibility of a tangible racial reality of French social life which raises further questions about the place of French minorities in being fully regarded as part of the broader national imaginary.

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