Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
French and Francophone World Studies
Michel S. Laronde
For nearly two hundred years, France has been home to more immigrants than any other European country. The literatures that come out of twentieth-century immigrations represent a living and fluid genre, one that is constantly being transformed and transforming itself by the lived experience of immigrants. My dissertation analyzes the representations of first generation North African immigrants from the nineteen-fifties and sixties by their children in Arabo-French immigration cultural productions. The structure of this study is that of a comparative analysis, examining the representations of immigrants in film and literature and specifically analyzing the points of convergence and divergence in the development and perpetuation of stereotypical discourse. The "Beur generation" paved the way for dialogue about and representation of post-World War II North African migrant labor through the opening of a polyphonic discourse concerning colonial and post-colonial history. Beur authors and cinematographers have broken the long-standing collective pact of silence surrounding the first generation of North African immigrants, a silence which has led to an incomplete and therefore partly imagined history of a generation that is spoken of, but who does not speak. In filling the void concerning North African parents, these works often result in filtered representation and history as they reproduce the very stereotypes about first generation immigrants that are so rampant in dominant French culture; the "reconstruction" of history and the representation of its actors that takes place through Beur cultural productions are thereby strongly influenced by dominant French institutions. The Beur generation in France, inheritors of their Algerian immigrant parents' past, reconstruct and reinterpret their history with the filters of their own experiences and the subversive presence of French institutions. It is in these margins that history is constructed but also filtered through the gaze of others.
Copyright 2012 Rebecca Leal