France is a bellwether for the postcolonial anxieties and populist politics emerging across the world today. Postcolonial France: The Question of Race and the Future of the Republic (Pluto Press, 2018) explores the dynamics and dilemmas of the present moment of crisis and hope in France, through an exploration of recent moral panics.

Taking stock of the tensions as they have emerged over the last quarter of a century, Paul Silverstein looks at urban racial violence, female Islamic dress and male public prayer, anti-system gangster rap, and sporting performances in and around which debates over France’s multicultural future have arisen. It traces these conflicts to the unresolved tensions of an imperial project, the present-day effects of which are still felt by many.

Despite the barriers, which include neo-nationalist racism and Islamophobia, French citizens of various backgrounds have found ways to build flourishing lives. Silverstein shows how they have responded to urban marginalisation, police violence and institutional discrimination in remarkably creative ways.

Paul Silverstein is Professor of Anthropology at Reed College, USA. He is author of Postcolonial France (Pluto, 2018) and Algeria in France: Transpolitics, Race and Nation (Indiana UP, 2004). He writes on identity politics, postcoloniality, and diasporic popular culture in France and North Africa.

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