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France's 'elites', Islamophobia, and communities of friendship in Sabri Louatah's Les Sauvages

McQueen F (2018) France's 'elites', Islamophobia, and communities of friendship in Sabri Louatah's Les Sauvages. Modern and Contemporary France, 26 (1), pp. 77-90.

Sabri Louatah’s Les Sauvages (2011–2016) joins an ongoing discussion over the French political class’s relationship with the racial and religious divides in contemporary French society. Louatah portrays the political class as imposing from above a divide between French descendants of Muslim immigrants and their majority-culture compatriots, and suggests that the functioning of the modern state makes this necessary: states are founded upon communities of belonging which require the exclusion of given minorities, and will reimpose that exclusion with force if a more inclusive model of community threatens to emerge. Two readings of how Les Sauvages suggests we should respond to this are possible. One suggests that subjects should reject the state entirely, seeking to form inclusive communities escaping its control. Another suggests that the structures of the modern state should be appropriated to promote inclusion, but that the nature of modern democracy will prevent such action from succeeding completely; as such, traditional political engagement must work in conjunction with more radical attempts to form communities free from exclusion. Both readings, however, hold in common the idea that racial and religious divides are imposed from above and that these divides cannot be completely overcome while working within mainstream political structures.

Sabri Louatah; Les Sauvages; Islamophobia; French Literature; Contemporary French Literature; Contemporary French Politics

Modern and Contemporary France: Volume 26, Issue 1

Author(s)McQueen, Fraser
Publication date31/12/2018
Publication date online26/09/2017
Date accepted by journal06/09/2017
PublisherTaylor and Francis
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