La France fracturee: From La marche des Beurs to Les Gilets Jaunes

Christine O'Dowd-Smyth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines thirty-five years of politically motivated protests, demonstrations and riots in France, from the 1983 'La marche des Beurs' where hundreds of thousands of young people, born in France, of North African immigrant origin, took to the streets to demand recognition of their Frenchness; to a rich cultural productivity in auto-ethnographical literature and film emanating from what Matthew Moran has described as 'Internal Outsiders'; to Mathieu Kasovitz's 1995 film La haine, depicting life lived on the margins in the soulless sink estates or banlieues; to 2018, and the massive demonstrations organised by Les gilets jaunes, I will argue that this politics of protest, stemming from the French Revolution, is both an intrinsic part of French culture as it is a symptom of a divided and fractured society. As Olivier Besancenot said of the general strike in 2019 'La lutte continue'. This chapter will also provide, by way of comparison, the situation in Ireland, where although there is a recent & burgeoning protest movement (against water charges; homelessness and for the Repeal of the 8th Amendment to the Constitution) again politically motivated and organised by the new parties of the Left (People Before Profit; Anti Austerity Alliance), there has not been a strong social movement of people protesting and rioting, even when the country entered a period of austerity. This growing movement of harnessing public anger, in Ireland, has not yet found its literary and artistic expression. In both France and Ireland, when the margins are appearing at the centre, in the capital cities of Paris and Dublin, and these margins are joined by students, by pensioners, by workers who no longer afford a certain standard of living, it is, to quote Gilles Deleuze, when Difference must leave its cave and cease to be a monster, that difference can be 'mediated'.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMargins and Marginalities in France and Ireland
Subtitle of host publicationA Socio-Cultural Perspective
PublisherPeter Lang AG
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781789977578
ISBN (Print)9781789977479
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021


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