Cultural Studies
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Theorizing France’s Ministry of Immigration and National Identity: Borders, Populations and National Identity in Postcolonial Europe

Ozden Ocak

Major Professor: Alison Landsberg, PhD, Department of History and Art History

Committee Members: Denise Albanese, Thomas Dodman, Peter Mandaville

Founder's Hall, #324
July 29, 2015, 03:30 PM to 12:30 PM

Abstract:

This dissertation explores the ways in which immigration and national identity are conceived of and governed in France through an examination of the French Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Codevelopment created in 2007 by the Sarkozy government. Combining a genealogical and political economic analysis, I suggest that the immigration problem emerged in France within the colonial welfare mechanisms of integration and development with the purpose of governing the former colonized subjects in the metropole in the absence of formal colonial relations. Against this backdrop, my dissertation examines how the neoliberalization of the immigration dispositif reconfigures the ways in which Europe thinks and acts upon the rest of the world. I trace the consequences of this transformation in individual chapters on integration, development and identity. First, analyzing the political economy of the immigration problem and the new meanings of development, I detail how the landmark EU Council decisions on the management of migration embed the security industry’s demands and market logic within EU level policy making and research and enterprise programs. Focusing on the French context, I discuss the implications of these changes in the long-established link between development and immigration. Through the immigration problem, I suggest, France today enlists its former African colonies in the management of migration, turning them into markets for European defense and security technologies under the rubric of codevelopment. In the chapter on integration, I examine the changing mechanisms and rationale that delegate the responsibility of integration onto the immigrants. Drawing attention to the increasing legal interventions in the realm of integration, I view the criminalization of the ‘failure’ to integrate and accompanying practices of detention and expulsion as consequences of neoliberal governmentality. Finally, I dedicate a chapter to exploring the national identity debate the French Ministry launched in 2009, suggesting that the French state seeks to channel the anxiety of its citizens, which results from the crumbling of the welfare state, toward the invented enemy of the ‘unwanted’ immigrant. Thus complicating the dominant view that reduces contemporary French and wider European immigration politics to increasing anti-immigrant hostility, I examine the changing rationale behind the mechanisms and institutions in and through which immigration is problematized, the strategic purposes the immigration problem serves today and the ways in which the immigrants, sending countries, and the French state and citizens are implicated in these processes.

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