Escafre-Dublet, Angeline. (2007) France, immigration, and the policies of Culture: understanding the “French Integration Model”. In: UNSPECIFIED, Montreal, Canada. (Unpublished)
The common understanding of immigration in France tends to emphasise republican principles as a critical element to approaching the integration of immigrants in France. This gives major agency to republican institutions, such as the educational system, and assumes that the state has been blind to any specific ethnic belonging. Immigrants have been given, equal access to republican institutions thus allowing equal chances of success. However, in an effort to bring historical perspective to the practice of integration policies in France, I argue against the myth of the republican model. Policy makers have made practical decisions to cope with various situations, and as a result have often contradicted republican principles. Immigrants have been considered according to an underlying hierarchy of origin and cultural programs have been designed to approach each national group differently. I provide concrete evidence for the argument that highlights a discrepancy between the political discourse of a French model of integration at the core of the republic versus the reality of the policy making. By focusing on the cultural components of immigration policies I argue that discussions around cultural diversity are critical to understand the formation of French integration policy. Drawing on extensive research in the governmental archives from the 50’s to the 80’s, this paper investigates the state’s position on cultural diversity throughout the years in order to provide direct insight on integration policies. Firstly, the paper focuses on the cultural component of social programs designed to ease immigrant integration into the country during the post-colonial period. Secondly, the paper explores the state’s position on cultural diversity by investigating the discussion on immigrant culture in the Ministry of Culture. Thirdly, the paper provides a comparative perspective with the United States.
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