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?Nous Sommes la Gauche?: French Identity Politics and the False Paradox of Republican Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective

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Abstract:

The emergence of social movements based on racial, gender, or sexual difference in France has produced a debate on both sides of the Atlantic over the relationship between French Republican universalism and identity politics or multiculturalism. Some argue that the Republican concept of universal and equal citizenship has constrained identity-based mobilization, while others see a diffusion of an American or pluralist identity model that threatens the Republican promise. While much of the research focuses on organizing in immigrant communities, in the 1990s the American-inspired AIDS and gay activists at Act Up Paris became the center of a polemic over the normative implications of identity politics in France. This paper examines the rise of Act Up Paris , the claim that they advocate for a communitarian identity, and the nature and direction of their activism. Drawing comparisons with ACT UP in the U.S., I argue that the American model is an elusive reference. In order to understand the unique ways that this French movement constructs political and social identities, we must look beyond the debate over universalism and multiculturalism to follow the discursive contours of activist strategies that frame linked fate and cross cutting issues. The nature of Act Up Paris, through its constitution of a general interest around the themes of AIDS and marginalization, is more a form of popular Republicanism than it is American.

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act (137), gay (121), polit (120), aid (112), ident (103), franc (61), activist (60), issu (59), american (58), organ (52), pari (52), republican (49), le (47), new (46), la (45), french (45), communiti (42), group (39), u.s (35), men (32), blood (31),

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Keywords: France gay AIDS social movements multiculturalism identity politics
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Bosia, Michael. "?Nous Sommes la Gauche?: French Identity Politics and the False Paradox of Republican Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 28, 2002 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p65458_index.html>

APA Citation:

Bosia, M. J. , 2002-08-28 "?Nous Sommes la Gauche?: French Identity Politics and the False Paradox of Republican Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p65458_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: The emergence of social movements based on racial, gender, or sexual difference in France has produced a debate on both sides of the Atlantic over the relationship between French Republican universalism and identity politics or multiculturalism. Some argue that the Republican concept of universal and equal citizenship has constrained identity-based mobilization, while others see a diffusion of an American or pluralist identity model that threatens the Republican promise. While much of the research focuses on organizing in immigrant communities, in the 1990s the American-inspired AIDS and gay activists at Act Up Paris became the center of a polemic over the normative implications of identity politics in France. This paper examines the rise of Act Up Paris , the claim that they advocate for a communitarian identity, and the nature and direction of their activism. Drawing comparisons with ACT UP in the U.S., I argue that the American model is an elusive reference. In order to understand the unique ways that this French movement constructs political and social identities, we must look beyond the debate over universalism and multiculturalism to follow the discursive contours of activist strategies that frame linked fate and cross cutting issues. The nature of Act Up Paris, through its constitution of a general interest around the themes of AIDS and marginalization, is more a form of popular Republicanism than it is American.

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Document Type: .pdf
Page count: 32
Word count: 11875
Text sample:
``Nous Sommes la Gauche'': French Identity Politics and the False Paradox of Republican Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective 1 by Michael J. Bosia Northwestern University Prepared for the 2002 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association August 29 ­ September 1 2002. Copyright by the American Political Science Association 2002 ``We should be more Republican than the Republicans!'' Act Up Paris militant 2 Abstract The emergence of social movements based on racial gender or sexual difference in France has
and develop concepts of linked fate. This can nuance the debate on multiculturalism by developing theories that explain why French activists have successfully reduced inter­group competition and enhanced cooperation or why American activists are often unsuccessful in pursuing an expansive sense of linked fate. It also helps us understand how the process of agenda setting within specific national cultures influences the constitution of political identities. By exiting the paradox an activist­centered approach sensitive to these concerns can clarify the


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