CfP: AAA Paper Panel: "De- and Re-Territorialization in Metropolitan France"

Alexander Thomson's picture
Call for Papers
March 4, 2019 to March 24, 2019
United States
Subject Fields: 
French History / Studies, Anthropology, European History / Studies

Dear Colleagues,

Ellen Badone and I are organizing a panel for the 2019 AAA/CASCA meeting in Vancouver (Nov. 20-24th, 2019) on "De- and Re-Territorialization in Metropolitan France." We are excited about this topic and would like to invite you to participate. Please read over the panel abstract below and, if interested, send us your paper abstracts via e-mail by March 24th. Also please feel free to pass this call for papers along to other researchers who may be interested in participating.

Best Wishes,

Alexander Thomson

PhD Candidate

Dept. of Anthropology

University of California, Los Angeles


Ellen Badone

Professor, Anthropology and Religious Studies

McMaster University

Hamilton Ontario L8S 4K1


Type: Call for Papers

Date: Nov. 20-24th, 2019

Location: Vancouver, Canada

Panel Title: De- and Re-Territorialization in Metropolitan France

Submission Deadline: March 24th


Abstract: In keeping with the AAA-CASCA conference theme “Changing Climates: Struggle, Collaboration and Justice,” this session brings together anthropologists who work with diverse ethnic, linguistic, religious and regional communities located in metropolitan France. We seek to foster an exchange of ethnographic knowledge related to: the organizational structures of these communities, their present and historical formations, their tactical and strategic manœuvres vis-à-vis the state, their modes of social relation (including the interrelation of communities), and their modes of relating to the political economy. Through this exchange, we hope to develop a richer understanding of how new and classical liberalism have impacted France’s sub-national communities. Crucially, we treat the term “community” – used in the conference theme – as part of our problematic. We do this because we are aware of the controversies that this term has sparked within the French context (e.g. the various accusations of communautarisme that French parliamentarians have leveled against cultural and religious organizations).

The French state has long refused to recognize sub-national communities as legal entities lest they insinuate themselves between the state and the citizen, arrogate rights that are (ideologically) ascribed to one of these parties, or claim to derive specific rights from their entity-status (cf. Colosimo 2016, Spinoza 1670[2007]). One notable example of this policy of non-recognition is the government’s refusal to ratify the European Charter for Minority Languages on the grounds that it contravenes the French constitution and threatens the “unity and indivisibility of the Republic.”

Beyond policy decisions of this sort, which work against the recognition of sub-national communities directly, the state apparatus (SA) also undermines the cohesion of sub-national communities through a set of mundane bureaucratic mechanisms (e.g. bank accounts, competitive exams, identification cards). These mechanisms work to undermine community by individuating, mobilizing and re-arranging elements of the population. Nonetheless, it must be recognized that the French state has on other occasions and in other ways reinforced sub-national communities. For example, it tried to attenuate the phenomenon of urbanization during the 19th century through the veneration of rural communities and corresponding vilification of urban life in its scholastic manuals (Thiesse 1996, 2014). Clearly, we are not dealing with an “absolute deterritorialization” here, but rather one that is always partial and prone to relapse, one which forever takes with one hand what it gives with the other (Deleuze and Guattari 1980). In light of this recognition, we encourage our panelists to reflect on the concrete ways that their research “communities” have been made, unmade and re-made over time through their engagement with the state, the global and national economies, and other segments of French society.



Colosimo, Anastasia

2016 Les bûchers de la liberté. Paris, France: Stock.

Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari

1980 Mille plateaux. Paris, France: Éditions de minuit.

Spinoza, Benedictus de, Jonathan I Israel, and Michael Silverthorne

2007 Theological-political treatise. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Thiesse, Anne-Marie

1996 Les petites patries encloses dans la grande: les manuels scolaires régionaux de la IIIe république. Mission du patrimoine linguistique.

2014 Ils apprenaient la France L’exaltation des régions dans le discours patriotique. Paris: Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme., accessed February 25, 2019.