Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation

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Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race, and Nation

By Paul A. Silverstein
Indiana University Press, 2004
288 pp. $49.95
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This informative and sophisticated work of anthropology examines Algerian immigration to France, focusing on immigrants in Paris after the end of the Algerian war and how they were affected by the Algerian civil war of the 1990s. Silverstein calls it a study in "transpolitics"--how transnational migration corrodes "nationalism's handling of people, territory, and politics." He deftly summarizes the history of Franco-Algerian relations, pointing out the French preference for the (allegedly less religious) Berbers over the Arabs, and finds that "the French nation-state has ... proved to be fundamentally ambivalent in its management of ethnoracial and linguistic differences, as it has simultaneously avowed or disavowed--produced and erased--subnational categories of identity." He also calls the state housing system a "site for economic exclusion and racism" that has prompted Algerian immigrants to "create their own structures of civility." Judging from their cultural output, he concludes that Algerians often feel unwelcome in both France and Algeria.