Chapter 5

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Analyzing the 2010 court case brought against Devoir d’Insolence authors Bouamama and Zone d’Expression Populaire, the chapter reveals a paradox: the act of fighting discrimination in France is itself increasingly labeled ‘discriminatory’. In fact, this case (and others like it) coincides with the rising currency of the term ‘anti-white racism’ in France. This chapter therefore proposes that ultimately meeting the larger goals of both the authors and artists examined in the book’s earlier chapters, as well as the many scholarly studies that have sought to contest such restrictive understandings of Frenchness requires a complementary approach: interrogating the latent association between whiteness and Frenchness. To this end, it reads Devoir d’Insolence alongside Salif Keïta’s rerelease of ‘Nou Pas Bouger’ featuring L’Skadrille (2007), revealing how these artists and authors destabilize not only images of Frenchness and foreignness, but also the institutionalized spectacularism that perpetuate them. Finally, this chapter also takes seriously the call emanating from the works themselves, which suggest that continuing to position racial and ethnic minorities as the object of inquiry while refusing to subject whiteness to the same scrutiny constitutes institutionalized spectacularism. This chapter therefore proposes that scholars must critically interrogate whiteness within the field of French cultural studies.

The Devoir d’Insolence Project & Other Music

In 2010, Saïd Bouamama and French popular music group Z.E.P. (Zone d’Expression Populaire) published a sociological study and accompanying music album entitled Devoir d’Insolence. Later that year, the conservative group L’AGRIF (L’alliance générale contre le racisme et pour le respect de l’identité française et chrétienne) brought a court case of discriminatory hate speech against Bouamama […]