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'Color-Blind Affirmative Action': The Case of France


April 10, 2014
4:15pm - 6:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall
April 10, 2014
4:15pm - 6:00pm
Hoffmann Room, Busch Hall

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Abstract: However mistakenly, in France, affirmative action is widely perceived as a typically and quintessentially "American" policy. In this paper I consider what is generally called in French "positive discrimination" (discrimination positive) in relation to its U.S. counterpart. After some preliminary comments on the prevailing contrast between the two countries as far as race is concerned, I focus three interrelated topics: first, the notion of "diversity" and the role it plays in contemporary French public discourse; second, the controversy over the potential collection, storage and policy use of statistical data on the ethnoracial breakdown of the French population; finally, the existence in France of an affirmative action regime, distinct from the U.S. one, yet arguably less and less so.

Dr. Daniel Sabbagh is a leading scholar on the comparative study of racism and discrimination in the US and Europe. Formerly a Visiting Assistant in Research at Yale and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Chicago and New York University's Remarque Institute, Sabbagh is a Senior Research Fellow at Sciences Po (Centre d'études et de recherches internationales) and an Associate Professor of political science at the American University of Paris. His current research interests focus on antidiscrimination and affirmative action policies, considered from a comparative and pluridisciplinary perspective. He is the author of Equality and Transparency: A Strategic Perspective on Affirmative Action in American Law (New York, Palgrave, 2007) and the co-editor of Race, racisme, discrimination: une anthologie de textes fondamentaux (Paris, Herman, forthcoming). His other publications include articles in World Politics, Daedalus, Ethnic and Racial Studies, the Political Science Quarterly, the Comparative Education Review, and a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Comparative Constitutional Law (Michel Rosenfeld and Andras Sajo (eds.), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012). Along with sociologists Devah Pager and Agnès van Zanten, he chaired the academic board of the French American Foundation's "Equality of Opportunity" program from 2006 to 2011.

Paper available: https://ces.fas.harvard.edu/files/events/20140410_InclExcl_Sabbagh.pdf

Sponsors

With the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.

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