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Conference - The White Condition: Reflection on a French Majority

Sarah Mazouz (CNRS-CERAPS), member of the Global Race project, co-organizes with Mathilde Cohen (CNRS-IMM-UConn), a conference on "The white condition: Reflection on a French majority". Patrick Simon and Juliette Galonnier, also members of the Global Race project, will participate. All exchanges and discussions will be in French.

Date: Friday June 29, 2018

Venue: Room 13, EHESS, 105 bd Raspail, 75006 Paris



Throughout the past decade, studies of racialization processes have progressively emerged within French social sciences. While this body of work indirectly sheds light on the majority experience, it often fails to address the issue of whiteness. This workshop aims at encouraging a reflection taking at its starting point what we call the "white condition" within the French context. We build upon the idea first developed by Whiteness Studies according to which whiteness is a social status that manifests itself in three main ways. First, thinking of oneself as white usually implies that one is not racializable, while members of other groups are.  Second, this can lead whites to feel entitled to racialize members of these other groups, i.e. assigning them to a subaltern position in a subordinating move based on the assumption of a supposed radical otherness. Third, defining oneself as white often entails the belief that one holds a neutral and non-racialized viewpoint on the world, by contrast to "others" who are deemed irremediably tied to a given perspective determined by their race.



8.30 am - Welcome


9am - Introduction

by Mathilde Cohen


Session 1 - 9.30am-12pm: Thinking the White Condition within the French Context

Discussant : Pap Ndiaye (Sciences Po)

Sarah Fila-Bakabadio (Université de Cergy-Pontoise): "Body and whiteness through the lens of blackness"

Mathias Möschel (Central European University): "For a socio-legal comparative analysis of anti-white racism: France and Germany"

Maxime Cervulle (Université de Paris 8, CEMTI-ACMÉ): "« Diversity » as a regime of representation. Thinking about the conditions of a critique of whiteness within audiovisual media and live entertainment"

Julien Talpin (CNRS/CERAPS/Université de Lille): "Collecting testimonies of racial discrimination when one is white. Reflections on an interview-based research design"


Session 2 -  1pm-2.30pm: Whiteness in Overseas territories: Plantocratic Legacies and Postcolonial Configurations

Discussant : Malcom Ferdinand (KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies)

Audrey Célestine (Université Lille 3/CERAPS): "« Man sé an boug Nor-karayib! » (Me, I am a fella from Nord Caraïbe). Distanciating oneself from whiteness in the Martinican context"

Clémence Léobal (EHESS): "Bakaa whiteness, a political definition of race? Reflexive analysis on categories designating the majority group in Western French Guiana"


Session 3 - 2.30pm-4pm: Revealing whiteness: Islam and the White Condition

Discussant : Patrick Simon (INED)

Juliette Galonnier (INED): "Becoming Muslim and becoming white: conversion to Islam as discovery of whiteness in France and the United States"

Hanane Karimi (Université de Strasbourg/Laboratoire Dynamiques Européennes): "Analyzing the implicit criteria of whiteness in the designation of Arabo-Muslim people"


Session 4 - 4.30pm-6pm: The Construction of White Womanhood

Discussant: Mélanie Gourarier (CNRS/LEGS)

Éléonore Lépinard (Université de Lausanne): "The contours of feminist whiteness: race, religion, and political subjectivation of white feminists in France and Québec

Jennifer Boittin (Penn State College of the Liberal Arts): "European or white? Circulation, gender and race during the interwar period"


6pm-6.30pm: Conclusion

by Sarah Mazouz


This conference received funding from the ANR project Global-Race and the CERAPS.



Carole Reynaud-Paligot - Le racisme d’hier à aujourd’hui

Carole Reynaud-Paligot, member of the Global Race project, gives a public lecture on the theme :

"Le racisme d’hier à aujourd’hui"

Thursday April 5, 2018, at 6pm

Venue: Pierrevives, 907 Rue du Professeur Blayac, 34080 Montpellier

She will talk about the exhibit she curated Nous et les autres. Des préjugés au racisme.

More information here.




Elisabeth Cunin - Birth of Indigenism and Anti-Racism

Elisabeth Cunin, a member of the Global Race project, will talk at the EHESS seminar « La fabrication du sujet politique. Réflexivité, subjectivités et pouvoir », on the following topic:

« Entre ethnographie des institutions et trajectoire biographique. Le rôle de Juan Comas dans la naissance de l’indigénisme et de l’anti-racisme »

Thursday April 5, 2018, from 1 to 5 pm
Room AS1_08, 54 bd Raspail 75006 Paris

To prepare the session, attendees may want to read the following text : Todd Shepard, 2011, "Algeria, France, Mexico, UNESCO : a transnational history of anti-racism and decolonization, 1932-1962", Journal of Global History, p.273-297.

This session is organized along with the Brazil scientific collaboration program CAPES COFECUB "Les régimes nationaux de l’autochtonie. Situations autochtones et question nationale dans les Amériques et en Océanie".



Sarah Mazouz - La République et ses autres

Global Race member Sarah Mazouz will be presenting her book La République et ses autres : politiques de l’altérité dans la France des années 2000, on December 6th 2017 at 6.30pm at café-librairie Michèle Firk: 9, rue François Debergue in Montreuil (near Paris).






Talk by Carole Reynaud-Paligot : "The racialization of identities, now and then"

Global Race member, historian Carole Reynaud-Paligot gave a talk entitled "La racialisation des identités d’hier à aujourd’hui" on November 22, 2017, as part of the exhibit "Nous et les autres, des préjugés au racisme" at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris. 

L’étude de la racialisation des identités dans le passé nous dévoile les mécanismes et les acteurs de ces processus. Elle peut nous aider à mieux comprendre les phénomènes d’ethnicisation/racialisation dans la société française d’aujourd’hui.




Interview with Sarah Mazouz : « Les dynamiques de racialisation sont tues par les pouvoirs publics »

Global Race member Sarah Mazouz gave a long interview on November 17th, 2017 to the website MeltingBook on the central issue of alterity in French society. 

Excerpt: "Quand je dis « racial », j’entends par là un rapport de pouvoir spécifique produit socialement – comme la classe ou le genre. Ces processus de racialisation varient d’une époque à l’autre mais ils permettent dans le cas d’une société donnée de placer certains de ses membres dans une position inférieure ou subalterne en justifiant cela par l’altérité – supposée radicale – de leur origine. Parler de racialisation, cela permet de mettre en évidence des processus qui changent d’une époque à une autre, qui ne visent pas toujours les mêmes groupes, mais qui concourent systématiquement à leur infériorisation. C’est aussi une notion qui sert à voir comment le racisme a sédimenté dans les catégories de perception, même chez des personnes qui n’adhèrent pas activement à une idéologie raciste, et comment il peut continuer d’influer sur la manière dont certain.e.s sont perçu.e.s et, de ce fait, assigné.e.s."


Public presentation of Sarah Mazouz’s book "La République et ses autres" (The French Republic and its Others)

Sarah Mazouz, member of the Global Race project, presented her book La République et ses autres (ENS Editions), on April 25, 2017 at the Lieu-Dit, à Paris.

Summary of the book

Is France afraid of its others? Focusing on the various discourses and practices that have been progressively formalized over the last 15 years, Sarah Mazouz investigates "French policies of otherness." Drawing upon a double ethnographic study in government bodies fighting racial discrimination and naturalization offices of a large city in the Parisian region, Sarah Mazouz demonstrates how issues of immigration, nation and racialization are articulated in social space. By investigating these two public policies, she explores processes of inclusion and exclusion within the nation itself (by looking at antidiscrimination’s various modalities) and outside of it (by looking at naturalization practices). In doing so, she strives to grasp the paradoxical relationships that ties the Republic to its others and the plurality of logics that relate to the production of a national order.

Table of contents

General introduction

Chapter 1 - Racial discrimination issues. An incomplete recognition.

Chapter 2 - Discrimination policies. Limits and ambivalences of the State.

Chapter 3 - Facing the nation - Administrative practices and naturalization experiences

Chapter 4 - French, and yet different. Naturalization ceremonies and the paradoxes of the naturalized category.

General conclusion



From the exhibition “Téléphone arabe” to the web documentary “On se la raconte!”

"Téléphone arabe" Exhibit © Ali Guessoum


The NGO Remembeur organized a travelling exhibition entitled "Téléphone Arabe" (French equivalent to “Chinese Whispers”). Leaning on humor and irony, it describes everyday racism and the way in which stereotypes and encompassing overviews racialize individuals categorized as Arabs or Blacks. The last step of the exhibition’s path was a film studio where the visitors could go, react to the exhibition and talk about their own lived experience. The recording of these stories from everyday life gave the Web documentary “On se la raconte” (which may be translated by “Let’s show off” to keep the pun conveying both pride and the idea that something is said and shown).

 On February  27, 2017 , the research program Global-Race was happy to welcome the film director, Nassima Guessoun and the founder of Remembeur, Ali Guessoum. A work session followed the screening of a draft version of the web documentary to discuss on the filmmaking.