Beur, blanc, black : the banlieue talks back in novels, films, and graphic novels




Wright, Jocelyn Asa

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This dissertation analyzes works by persons who grew up in the French banlieue, the economically-disadvantaged suburban areas that have become a metonym for conversations about integration, crime, and violence in France. I focus on the time period 1999 to 2016 because a number of heavily-mediatized events that have shaped perceptions of the banlieue in the French imaginary took place at this time. During the first decade and a half of the twenty-first century, a number of events—the 2005 riots, the headscarf debates, and numerous terrorist attacks domestically and internationally—have fossilized a particular conception of the French banlieue within the French and international cultural memory as a lawless space of destruction, a hotbed of Islamic extremism, and a dangerous place for women. This study elucidates problems of authorship, authenticity and representation in the banlieue, and analyzes why banlieue authors tend oscillate between mediums. I identify unique stylistic elements in each medium that are shifting assumptions about integration, mobility, and social dynamics in the banlieue. I argue that banlieue artists use novels, films and graphic novels to contest the myth of the banlieue as an urban ghetto


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