Sunday, March 5, 2017

Withdrawal as a reaction to exclusion

Since our class discussion, I've been fixated on the idea of preventing social isolation, and how this in turn could stop radicalization. A while back I read this New Yorker article ( in the hopes of understanding the relation between Paris proper and the Banlieues. Before moving here, I had no idea that the Banlieues are so weighted with deep-seeded and racially charged issues: the article explains how those living there have trouble gaining meaningful employment, how tourists and Parisians rarely ever venture into these areas, and the imbedded discrimination from those who believe that the inhabitants of the Banlieue aren't "truly French".

The following excerpt pulled from the article seemed relevant to our class discussions: 
"According to Laurent Bouvet, a political scientist, an √©lite degree is the only guarantee of finding a good job in a country that’s mired in economic torpor. This is increasingly true in America, too, but the U.S. absorbs immigrants far more easily than France. What the two countries have in common—and what makes them unique—is a national identity based not just on history, blood, soil, and culture but on the idea of popular sovereignty. In France, this is called republicanism, and in theory the idea is universal. In practice, being part of the French republic has to do not just with democracy and secularism but also with what you wear, what you eat, and what you name your children".

This idea, that you must conform to ideals of some sort of "way of life" in order to be truly French, is completely isolating. I believe that the small, seemingly insignificant parts of our personality - our favourite comfort foods, the music we listen to, the sports we watch - are integral to the formation of our identity. And if we don't feel that our identities are accepted, celebrated, and encouraged in our everyday lives, social isolation is unavoidable. This article reiterates that the Banlieues are physical representations of this sort of isolation - the author writes that "the city felt like the perimeter walls of a prison". Feeling both physically and ideologically removed from Paris, or the "other" France, must take its toll. I wonder what kind of civic media project we could work to create to help foster connections between communities. If the physical distance between Paris and the Banlieues can't be breached, can an online sphere help ease some of this isolation? It's a concept that I'm interested to explore in the remainder of the course. 


  1. this is deeply linked to France'ss history colonialist past

    you might find this discususin on France 24 quite interetsting spatial differentiation was inherited form this period.

  2. however what causes the isolation . is ot cultural rejection ? is it personal or family?what do you think of ths?