French like us? : municipal policies and North African migrants in the Parisian banlieues, 1945-1975
Byrnes, Melissa K.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Georgetown University, 2008.; Includes bibliographical references. The Parisian banlieues (suburbs) of Saint-Denis and Asnieres-sur-Seine reacted quite differently to the North African migrants arriving in their communities after the Second World War. Examination of the social welfare and housing policies pursued by the two cities offers insight into both the daily interactions between municipal officials and North African individuals, and the ways in which each municipality navigated French departmental and national political structures. The three decades, or trente glorieuses, from the end of the Second World War up to the economic crisis of the early 1970s (which temporarily halted immigration to France) allow for a comparison of policies before, during, and after the Algerian War (1954-62), and an evaluation of reactions to the rapidly increasing North African presence before the polemic debates of the 1980s.; This dissertation comprises three sections: the first examines social action, political intervention, and anti-colonialism in Saint-Denis; the second traces the motives for and management of the major housing and urban renovation projects launched by both cities in an attempt to banish their bidonvilles (shantytowns); and the third maps the two communities' relations with the greater French political structure, and explores the role of political identity, social interaction, and local geography in the development of policies dealing with North African migrants.; This work adds an historical perspective to our understanding of French immigration policy and the development of migrant communities in the banlieues. Research on the ambitious Asnierois renovation project brings a fresh example to the literature on urban housing policies in France, which currently treats only left-leaning communes. Meanwhile, close scrutiny of municipal actions in Saint-Denis reveals a more nuanced picture of the relationship between communist officials and North African workers. More importantly, it highlights the key role played by the Algerian War in the articulation of French policies towards North African migrants. Finally, an analysis of the influence of social and spatial proximity on political decision-making adds another dimension to our understanding of how communities react to the introduction of new populations, and of the various factors that can lead to the inclusion or exclusion of these newcomers.
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