(Post-)queer citizenship in contemporary republican France



Johnston C (2008) (Post-)queer citizenship in contemporary republican France. Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 12 (1), pp. 89-97.

1996 saw the publication of Frédéric Martel’s Le Rose et le noir, a comprehensive study of three decades of gay life in metropolitan France. The predominantly anti-communitarian stance adopted by Martel in the epilogue to the first edition of his work had evolved, by the time of the book’s publication en poche in 2000, into a more nuanced view of the interactions and intersections between queer and republican identities in contemporary France. This development was influenced, in large part, by concrete changes which took place over the second half of the 1990s, centring around the introduction of the PACS in 1999, and leading to an ever-broadening debate. This paper will begin by setting forth the ways in which Martel’s position changed and analysing the attitudinal, social, and legislative backdrop which paved the way for such a change to occur. It will then bring Martel’s work into a dialogue with the writings of Eric Fassin and Maxime Foerster, both of whom have, like Martel, offered crucial analyses of the place of queer citizens within the contemporary French republic. Particular attention will first be paid to the ways in which Fassin, in his writings, has underlined the salience of the ‘droit du sol/droit du sang’ debate, traditionally associated with questions of ethnic belonging, in light of public and political discussions revolving around questions of queer kinship raised by the introduction of the PACS. This will lead into an examination of Foerster’s assertion that gay citizens of the Republic, in the era of the PACS, find themselves in a role previously held by women, in other words, as elements that require integration within a republican model. Foerster argues that this requirement to integrate is indicative of the fact that the traditional republican claim that the citizen is a blank canvas is at best misguided, and, at worst, has been deliberately subverted. This paper will examine the manner in which Martel and Fassin’s observations can be used to further strengthen the points raised by Foerster, concluding with the latter that a true engagement with the issues raised by debates around queer citizenship over the past decade can, in fact, allow the contemporary republican citizen to ‘devenir ceux [qu’il] est’. In other words, the article will conclude that the potential impact of the PACS legislation and the broader discussions it has provoked could be a renegotiation of the relationship between queer citizens and the republic.

citizenship; same-sex partnerships; contemporary France; French republicanism; Homosexuality France; Citizenship France

Contemporary French and Francophone Studies: Volume 12, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2008
PublisherTaylor & Francis

People (1)


Dr Cristina Johnston

Dr Cristina Johnston

Senior Lecturer, French