Professor of Political Science, Southern Methodist University Dallas
March 5, 2015
5:15pm - 7:00pm
Goldman Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
Is the French republican model still viable in debates over immigration and citizenship, especially in light of recent struggles over the place of Islam in la société laïque, the plight of immigrants in les banlieues, and the terrorist attacks on Charlie Hebdo and Hyper Cacher?
With the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.
Viewed from the perspective of the last thirty years, which saw the rise of a powerful anti-immigrant political movement, the Front National, immigrant riots in the suburbs, terrorist attacks, and heated arguments over Islam, one might conclude that immigration in postwar France has been raging out of control.
Yet despite the constant atmosphere of crisis and tension, France has remained a relatively open immigration country, a tradition which dates from the middle of the nineteenth century. Annual levels of immigration have not fallen much below 100,000 since the early 1950s, the right to asylum has been respected by every postwar government, and France has maintained what is arguably the most liberal naturalization policy in Western Europe.
How can we explain this continuity in the midst of crisis? I argue that the continuity in the principles and outcomes of French immigration policy is closely linked to the power of the republican model and to the “limits of control” that are a function of rights-based politics.