Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: france
Wednesday, 26 January 2011 15:53

A review of "Beyond Hatred"

A documentary by Olivier Meyrou, France, 2005

This French documentary discussed the murder of a 29 year old gay man by three skinheads in Rheims, France. It was interesting in that it worked in a distinct way from the way events such as this are normally covered by the press or in other films that portray the events as they happen like the melodramatic Matthew Shepard Story or Prayers For Bobby that intentionally pull on heart strings for a big impact. The more introspective style of the documentary started 780 days after the death of Francois Chenu, and focused on the journey of the parents and the siblings of Francois as they reluctantly let go of their anger towards the perpetrators, and faced them in court to hear their testimony and defense. The documentary portrayed brilliantly the very banal nature of the proceedings surrounding the trial, and the way in which the grief played out for each member of the family. It cuts through the performative rhetoric of the victim, that one sees already polished whether in press releases and or in lawyer's prepared statements, by showing us the emotive discussion and preparation, even debate over a single word in the prepared statement. In this way the audience is brought to the realization that the strong face that the family show under the spotlight in the documentary is revealed to be more complex.

I thought one scene was particularly interesting, in which the mother tells the camera that some part of her does not want to confront the perpetrators, because she knows when she sees them her anger will be dissipated by hearing of their deprived background, and the anger and rage will be diluted by pity or a desire to comprehend. She felt that, by the very fact of communicating and talking about the case, she was being dragged forward to a more rational place than the pure desire for vengeance. She realises the necessity of moving forward but is reluctant to leave that state of mind.

During the trial in the film, the audience observes that the family are torn by their rational democratic and humanistic principles and horror at the loss of someone they love at the hands of imbeciles. The better angels of their nature draw them to sympathize with the destitution of the perpetrators' lives, and the irresponsible actions and indifference of the parents of the accused.


Another interesting aspect to the trial was that the youngest perpetrator's legal representative was a Frenchman of "Arabic" descent. Given that the skinhead gang was intensely anti-Arab (one of their friends had pushed an Arab into the Seine where he then drowned), I thought it was extremely interesting to see how much the lawyer was involved with the young man and how much he pushed for leniency towards him. I also thought that his frank discussion with the family and about the remorse (or lack of) felt by the boys was incredibly powerful in that he was able to acknowledge their grief and appealed to their conscience at the same time, which he was able to do in part, because of his ethnic origin. During this discussion we can recognise the family's internal struggle, in that they want to know how to forgive, but are unsure of the remorse of the skinheads.

The whole structure of the courtroom and the way the case was handled, gave a lie to the way that these things are represented on television. The grief shouldered by relations of the victims as they go through proceedings makes all the little details and the minutiae of the law heavy with melancholy. There are several shots of office spaces, and corridors, which in their dreariness, replace the dramatics of the murder with the dull realization of the reality of this kind of loss.

In contrast to more traditional media outlets, the focus on the film, was on those left behind, and the grief and justice process. Francois never appears in the film, nor do the aggressors, or any photos of the violence committed. In this way, we stand in the place of the parents, who are left imagining the pain that their son went through, but the film ends with an open letter to the perpetrators. It is hard to know how the family's actions are perceived by the killers, and at times the family seems worried that they are laughing at the liberal values of the family that compel them to get involved in the lives of the attackers rather than maintaining distance.

Definitely worth watching 4/5
Below is the open letter to their son's killers:

Wednesday, 15 February 2012 14:25

Darkness in the City of Light

Let’s go beyond the glamour of Paris. Last summer was for me the occasion to rediscover the splendour of the French capital and to meet Françoise Gardes who cares for those travelers without return tickets who run aground on the banks of the river Seine with nothing in their pockets but the hope of asylum.

Monday, 30 January 2012 18:27

The Roma People in France : Between State of Rights and State Racism

Despite their status as French citizens, Roma (or Roms) from France, living upon French territory since the fifteenth century, are still subject to special treatments from state authorities. These treatments, converted in institutional practices, are contrary to the equalitarian Republican spirit. They pose both a political (by inventing different classes of French citizens) and an ethical problem (since they institutionalized inequality) and create therefore a "state of normalized exception." Such a state of exception[2], based on exclusion, constitutes a form of state racism. But the execution of this racist regime is not possible without creating and transforming the “Other” into a dangerous enemy. But questioning of this order requires political capacity to claim his share and his place in the community.


Who are the Roma?[3] The Roma, also known as Gypsies or “Gens de voyage” is a population living in Europe for about seven centuries. Originated from India, they arrived in Europe by crossing the Bosphorus in the fourteenth century, fleeing raids and famines. First stayed in Persia (now Syria), they reached Turkey afterwards, which was their last stop before Europe. From Turkish, they dispersed to countries of northern, eastern and Western Europe, including France. The Romani language that they speak is close to popular Indian language, such as Punjabi or Indi. Their way of life, characterized by constant travel; their attachments to their culture provoke suspicion. Experiencing systematized state control in the nineteenth and twentieth century, the anti-Roma feeling have been amplified and hardened in France from 2002 in the context of reelection of the right to power, searching to obtain the vote of the conservative trend of the population.


It is clear that, considering the extent of the debate on immigration in France for the past fifteen years, the Roma are not the only one targeted by arbitrary actions of   various rightwing governments. Untimely and unfounded statements, combining the issues of insecurity, crime and immigration have become daily refrains.[4] One of the most recent statements marking the spirits are those made by the French Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, threatening to remove the French nationality to parents (and kick them out whether they are or not born in France) whose children had assaulted agents of public order or harm their person. It is therefore clear that this is a much broader debate, going beyond the case of the Roma. Treating of the Roma is not because they are in themselves an exception, but because they represent a very different case from others, in the sense that, contrary to what one can think, “Les Roms de France” are French “since often many generations”,[5] as any other French, with, as outline above, have a long historical past with France. But more important, they are basically European and a consequence, in the context of the European Union, either they are from France or from Romania for example, are free to move inside the European Union, knowing that this union is first of all an economic space.[6] So any unionist can go through the union looking for opportunities. But the question that we are asking here is how explaining that some French citizens can be considered as   foreigners-from-inside or as holding temporary citizenship? And what are the categories to interpret such a situation in the context of the Republic? It becomes that the Roma are hence for us what we could methodologically call a case.

Some historical elements will help us to understand more. The presence in France long time ago of the Roma does not main that they were or are accepted as “total” citizens. The 1895’s law is one the most important expression of this antipathy. In effect, from this period, large censuses were organized to determine the Roms populations in France. The project was clear: It concerns “all the nomads, gypsies and vagrants".[7] The 1908’s and 1912’s laws "relating to the regulation of movement of nomads[8] followed afterwards. They settled the difference between “Normal French”, sedentary and “abnormal French”, nomad. In the same vein, the 1913 decree even states in its Article 8 that every nomad must obtain an

"Anthropometric notebook with the names and surnames and nicknames on which the nomad is known [...]. It must also receive reports indicating that including anthropometric waist, the bust, the size, length and width of the head, the diameter bizygomatic, the length of the right ear, the length of middle finger and the left atrium of the left elbow, the left foot, eye color, etc. "[9]


Cover of  a 1936’s anthropometric book.[10]


Beyond the dimension of control and disciplining   expressed by the various Acts, what resorting at first sight is the aspect of racialization, highlighting the difference between "Us" and "Them". Furthermore, this difference aims to stress   an anomalous dimension of the ‘Other’. Such a separation is in the same time a creation: the ‘Other’ is created and submitted to himself as his own truth that he cannot ignore. Furthermore, this creation is participating in logic of hegemony and devotes the denial of the Other’s differences. Because the fact that the Roma are ‘nomads’ and not correspond to what authorities call ‘Normal’, because the fact that they refuse to subject to the universal hegemonic order, they are rejected outside the “society”. According to Balibar, this procedure consists in:

"Transforming those affected by it in" enemy from within", and to ensure that, fantasy, otherness we project on them is perceived as their work and responsibility or their indelible blemish. Bodies and body marks the differences [...] have continued to inform the representation of the differences."[11]

The idea is to transform the exclusion into self-exclusion. Thus, based on these historical events, this case it reveals contradictions and a mythological dimension of the political and ideological debates. That bring us, to the necessity not only to revise   what one might call a certain idea of France but more fundamentally the concepts of political philosophy, such as citizenship, Republic, nation, Race, community, etc. In other words, what we are asking is how fundamentally we could define the Idea of Republic from this case? What is community? Who make part of it and how defining the criteria of this participation? The political condition of the community is it historical or metaphysical?

Indeed, the idea of ​​France that we are talking about here, is that has fueled a historical and collective imaginary, according to which France history is strongly linked to that of the revolution and the defense of human rights. France has never ceased to identify itself with this imaginary of law, justice and equality making of itself the place where movements for social emancipation were inspired. In any case, one of the levers of official positions of France under which human rights violations are crimes against humanity.[12] But it must be noted that this discourse, setting itself up in hegemonic doxa without connection to any historical reality. It is simply an effort to subsume what Jacques Rancière calls the politics into the police logics.[13] By claiming that France is the incarnation of rights Men, the concept of “Men” remains ambiguous and problematic, since it never has the same meaning depends on who is concerned. Marx had already outlined the abstract aspect of this concept of Men which is, in his view, purely ideological. Hence there is a need, in taking account a historical reality, to deconstruct this myth, because, as noted Ranciere, ““the Rights of Man are the rights of those who have not the rights that they have and have the right that they have not”.[14] The paradox becomes obvious: how to link these ideas of Rights to that of repression, exclusion or social marginalization?

Moreover, we can go further with this idea of ​​France, in stressing on the Republican narrative. The Republic, by definition, knows only citizens, without any discrimination. Hence membership in the city is determined by the legal possibility to prove his citizenship and therefore grants rights and requires respect for republican values. In other words, the republic cannot differentiate between citizens. Saying so, the Republican Tale eliminates two difficulties: i) it forbids thinking the community in terms of communautarism; ii) it forbids directing the debate towards specific consideration and presenting a guaranteed homogenous society. This false equalitarian spirit hides at least one thing: enforcing the invisibility of the invisible.  Unlike this hint of incarnation of law and of equality, historically and currently, what exists is widespread stigma, and institutionalized exclusion.

It is therefore possible, from what has been said, to draw a preliminary conclusion: the problem is not that Roma are not French citizens. Most of them are since several generations. But it is that they are citizens of another type, or let us say a sub-category of citizens, which is the subject of “special “treatments and specific jurisdiction because of their differences. In this case, one will agree that we are any more neither in the idea that France would be the embodiment of law and equality, or the embodiment of the Republic regime, but we face what E. Wallenstein points out as a “Xenophobia”, i.e., “The ejection of the ‘Barbarian’ from the physical locus of the community, the society, the in-group- death being the extreme version of ejection”.[15]

The hypothesis we support here can be reformulated as such: the ideas of republic and citizenship become a fiction serving as alibi for the establishment of an exclusive democracy. They highlight a rationality which the very idea of ​​equality is the consummate expression of inequality. In other words, inequality is verified each time should be specified between whom and whom there is equality. The state rationality’s is based on a report between inclusion/exclusion, between those who are inside and those who are outside. Such is what we call with Jacques Rancière a form of state racism.[16]

So there would be two ideological discourses in one ensuring the effectiveness of racism: the the Republican tale and the idea of the Nation-state[17] which, according to Balibar, "has a normative mode of association of the individual to the collectivity with for its opposite side an exclusion to social recognition or status as a citizen in the full sense"[18] to some members of the community.[19]


Thus, we can henceforth affirm that the Roma face to a state racism. But the racism in question here is not racism like the others. It is more subtle and complicated than that that has established, by comparison, the hierarchy between races in the ninetieth century or the subtle discourses about civilizing the savages, but which was, in truth, the pass of the colonizer. Of course, in between, the distance is almost negligible (let us noted that even while the organized massacres of racial cleansing in the early twentieth century are the result of racist theories developed in Europe in the nineteenth century).[20] Despite this genetic relationship, it is clear that we are witnessing a new form of racism, which can be seen as the result of the inability to repeat the Nazi racism and fascism of World War II context in particular. This form of "neo-racism" or a ”racism after the races":

"The forms of institutional racism that characterized colonial imperialism as well as fascist or based on segregation and apartheid are dismantled, but only if racism no longer exist in the functioning of institutions, and more generally in social relations. This is [a] complexity of racism after the races that we should clarify”.[21]

It would exist therefore, several kind of racism. But let consider the difference establishes   by Jacques Rancière, between two current forms of racism: a popular racism, says "from below" and a state racism that is a passion "from above".[22] Indeed, state racism is   organized, controlled, structured, managed through   technical provisions and distribution of place or space, allowing precise identification, as Michel Foucault would say, to frame a given population.  How     the Roma situation can be identified with such a state?


Let us refer one again, for the sake of demonstration, to some other historical moments in the relation of the Roma with the French state. In total, between 1895 and 1913, more than a dozen proposal law, prefectural decrees were adopted for the Roma’s frame. During a meeting of October 29, 1907, the intervention of Ferdinand David, Republican congressman from Haute-Savoie, who vehemently attacked the nomads and is particularly suspicious of the "gypsies" foreigners, convinced that these people, identified by "a sign of race," are dangerous, ignorant, uneducated, and against whom he wishes the government to take action much more aggressively:

"There are two kinds of nomads, he stated: foreigners and the French. Foreigners me particular concern because it is mainly those devastated areas of the East and also those of the South [...]. There are some French, called "roulottiers" and deal with many colleagues in these departments. They are often as harmful as foreign nomads. Why do we pursue these people? Because they have no home, no civil status, because they do not work, because they are theft and robbery, and I expect that it rises here to defend anyone. […] When a stranger wandering in the hands of the judge, if asked where are her children, where he married, where he buried his dead, he replied that he had buried his own on the street or somewhere in a field that his children were born in his trailer, in a locality which he has forgotten the name, and that, For his country, he came into the world somewhere, too, in an unknown location that has not preserved the memory.”[23]

These attempts to contain the Roma will have their effect. In 1969 another law was adopted, requiring them to bring for travel within France, a “circulation card." The anomy does not lie in the fact that this obligation to bring this   card has been made, but it is the fact that the obligation is made to a specific and restricted category of French citizens in particular, though the 1951’s Genova agreement, which France is a signatory, provides for free movement of persons within the limits of the law, as an expression of freedom. It stipulates in Article 13: "Everyone has the right   to move freely and choose his residence within the borders of a state. 2) Everyone has the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country."[24]

Furthermore, the question of attribution of   ID card the Roma, which could be appear as a simple fact, constitutes in itself a scandal. Indeed, an ID card, with one’s   passport, is juridical proof of membership of any individual to his state.  The only requirement for obtaining it is to prove that one pertain to the state which disposes itself mean to identify his members. But what we learned in the Roma’s case is that special conditions for the ID award have been established. Not eligible for an ID card than those with evidence of settlement. The CEDIS’ report[25] states that "Many of the Gypsies in the south of France have ID because they live in fixed housing."[26] (We will not raise here the problem of access to housing for French in general, even for the Roma which, clearly, is more than difficult). But what we want to outline, is the particular nature of these measures.

For example, the 1969’s decree concerning the Roma sets the number of Roma that each municipality should receive. This number does not exceed 3%[27], though this percentage is not applied to any other ethnic minority in French. Without exaggerating, we are not far from a trick to hide an unnamed apartheid that Balibar was talking about earlier:

“In other words, [it’s like] there would be danger of social imbalance or when too many electoral French Gypsies live in the same municipality. The implication is outrageous. It is estimated that would be detrimental influence that one population may suffer due to the existence of a strong minority of fellow gypsies in it.”[28]

To be complete on this aspect, we could also discuss the various laws called “Loi Besson I, Loi Besson II”, more recent, adopted in 2000, requiring to municipalities to provide access to these populations to non-occupied lands for their settlement. These laws remain till now dead letters![29] But in the same time, any other institution intervened to promote their application.[30] Two contradictory juridical approaches then: when laws are against the Roma, they are applied, when they offer some possibility, they are not applied. At the end, we reach the same result as any other racist disposition: elimination. The difference here is that, contrary to some other kind of elimination, like the final solution, it more subtle and supposed to last. Such are the caracteristics of     “Internal Exclusion”, i.e.:

"A phenomenon whose formal characteristic is that “the excluded“ cannot be accepted neither really accepted nor effectively eliminated, or simply driven into an outdoor area to that of the community. [...] This model of internal exclusion, characterized by an inner contradiction that generates double-edged policy of integration and repression, of "positive discrimination" but also stigma, covers two heterogeneous logic, we must understand both the difference in principle and combined effects in practice: first a logic of commodification of the individual in the capitalism market; on the other hand the logic of racialization that derives from the “essentialist” representation of historical communities whose intolerance of the other that it projects or identify within themselves exacerbated in a fantasy of purity, homogeneity and unity ....".[31]



The question remains that before such an exclusive order, how a political response can be given? What could be the political counterpart to put the racist state before his truth? Or else, what is the political action that could accomplish to reveal the fictional aspect of the hegemonic discourse of rights?

It is quite clear that such an intervention cannot be originated from the state side, because its logic, as we specified it before, is that of the police, that means: identifying and placing. These political interventions are possible only if they from the bottom as the capacity of the dominated to claim their place and their rights of the common. But such a process supposes that the dominated subjects transform themselves in political one, i.e. contesting the fact that they are only “Sans-Part”, and claiming their part and proceed, as a consequence, to what Rancière calls a “Partage du Sensible”.[32] Politics is the name of this need: i. e. fulfill the gap between the egalitarian logic and his denial, or, more precisely, ‘breaking’ with all dominant logic justifying the Arkhè, hence emancipation.

It seems that long time ago, the Roma are aware that if they want to modify their situation, it is not worth waiting some help from any state institution, since they are the incarnation of the racist state logic. The creation, in France, of several resistance organizations, such as La voix des Roms, Association Rencontre Tsiganes, Le collectif contre la Xénophobie, is one step towards this contestation and the struggle for equality conducted by the Roma. But the violence of the adversary remains intact, despite denunciations.

Let’s relate one example of this violence: On 24th October the Maison des Roms in the 20th arrondissement of Paris – a warehouse owned by the Mairie de Paris which has been squatted for almost a year by around 100 Roma including children and elderly people – was burned down after a firebomb attack. Fortunately there were no fatalities; one passer-by was taken to hospital. The attack came two days after a demonstration in the neighborhoods where some demonstrators proclaimed “we are going to burn everything!” Le Collectif contre la xénophobie has denounced the attack and demanded that the authorities make every effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.[33]

In sum, it would be idealistic to think such state racism will be over soon. There is any reason to it to stop. We learn enough historical lessons to know that that teleological destiny of history remains a Marxist illusion. But what we do think is that the movement of resistance, without which emancipation is not possible, is more than important. The United States history, in the context of the civil movement, remains, in my view, a probing example. Several decades of political struggle for rights putted an end, at least symbolically, to a hegemonic discourse of the supremacy of the whites and devoted the black civil rights. Obviously, that doesn’t that the racist question is over in USS, but that teach us that emancipation is constant struggle.


Agamben, Giorgio, 2003, L’Etat d’Exception, Seuil, Paris.
Balibar, Etienne, 1991, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, Ed. Verso, London. New York.
Balibar, Etienne, 2010, La proposition de L’Egaliberté, Ed. Seuil, Paris.
Bulletin officiel du ministère de l’intérieur, février 1913, p. 79-82.
Filhol, Emmanuel, 2007, « La loi de 1912 sur la circulation des « nomades » (Tsiganes) en France », Revue européenne des migrations internationales, vol. 23, n°2, 2007, mis en ligne le 1 octobre 2010.
Ranciere, Jacques, 1995, La Mésentente : Politique et Philosophie, Ed. Galilée, Paris.
Rancière, Jacques, 2009, Et tant pis pour les Gens Fatigues, Ed. Amsterdam, Paris.
Rancière, Jacques, 2004, ‘Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man?’, South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 103, no. 2–3, pp. 307–9


[1] I want to emphasize that there is a difference France between "Roma de France" and "Roma en France." The first refers to the Roma of French nationality and therefore are assumed to have the same rights and duties that ensure the laws and the French constitution vis-à-vis its citizens, the second term "Roma de France" means the Roma immigrated in France, coming from both countries within the European Union (such as Romania, for example) or European countries not part of the union. The fact is that there is also an institutional confusion between two categories when speaking of Roma. I would note also that I will address in this paper that the first case, taking into account the contradictions related to their status as French. For more details on this difference, we can refer to the document published by CEDIS, a reseach group on Roma entitled: “Roma de France, Roma en France: Le peuple du Voyage”. That's what Cecile   KOVA is trying to discuss in a paper entitled "The 'Roma' do not exist", "there are no Roma. Only people Spanish, French, Hungarian, Romanian, Swedish, etc. who happen to have a culture, traditions, special requests - like everyone else, is not it? The Roma are not primarily the Roma, as the hammer ambient discourse, they are primarily inhabitants of a country that is their country they are citizens, even if they are denied citizenship. The arrest of the title [...] is detached, as it is serious, because it evokes a historical process, unfortunately, already known: stigmatize a category of the population to better deprive of political rights and make it hateful to others, until the stigma of the next categorization». cf.:


[2] See Giorgio Abemben, L’état exception, Ed. Du Seuil, 2003.

[3] We do not here go into complicated semantic debates on the different ways of naming Roma. Indeed, this population is the subject of different names: Roma, Gypsies; Gens de voyage, etc. Each designation has a special semantics connotation, sometimes degrading. For convenience, I will stick to the Roma, judged as neutral by some well-known specialists (such as Jean Pierre Dacheux for example).

[4] Balibar makes the following interesting remark: “The figure is quite different when anti-immigrant racism achieves a maximum of identification between class situation and ethnic origin (…). Racism combines this identification with a deliberate confusion of an atomistic social functions: thus the them of invasion’ of French society by North Africans or of immigration being responsible for unemployment are connected with that of the money of the oil sheikhs who are buying up ‘our’ business, ‘our’ housing stock or ‘our seaside resorts. And this partly explains why the Algerians, Tunisians or Moroccans have to be referred to generically as ‘Arab’.” Cf. E. Balibar, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, Ed. Verso, 1991, p. 206.


[6] At the occasion of the world day of the Roma, Amnesty International was calling to the French government that the Roma are citizens as any other citizens and as a consequence, must be treated as such. Cf.

[7] See the repport of CEDIS, a research group on the Roma: “Roms de France, Roms en France: les gens du voyage”, p. 22.

[8] Idem

[9] Bulletin officiel du ministère de l’intérieur, février 1913, p. 79-82.


[11] E. Balibar, La proposition de l’Egaliberte, Essais Politique, Ed. Presse Universitaire de France, 2010, p. 248-250.

[12] Recently, I mean last month, French parliament adopted a controversial law condemning the Armenian massacre by Turkish during the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and 1916.

[13] The police logic, which is also the state logic subjected; the political logic emancipate. See J. Rancière, La Mesentente:  Politique et philosophie.

[14] Jacques Rancière, ‘Who is the Subject of the Rights of Man?’, South Atlantic Quarterly, vol. 103, no. 2–3, pp. 307–9.

[15] E. Wallenstein, « The Ideological tension of Capitalism: Universal versus Racism and Sexism », in Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities, trans. Into English by Chris Turner, Ed. Verso, 1991, p. 33.

[16] This hypothesis could also apply to other population groups in France based around immigration. This is what Eric FASSIN explains in his paper published on the MediaPart’s website entitled "Why the Roma?”: “Roma, Muslims, but also "young immigrants", black or "mixed marriages" are the signifiers of the same variables meant floating, and it is precisely the heterogeneous character of the list is the developer. What do they have in common? Clearly, nothing - except that both groups are available, if one may say, for the current political rhetoric of stigma. What symbolic properties, not social, Roma do they share with these diverse groups? The answer will tell us nothing about the causes of this phobia; however, it will inform the operation. It will include, not why, but how Roma are caught in the government rhetoric. The hypothesis we would like to develop here is that all these groups are stigmatized on the border between "them" and "us" - neither inside nor outside, or rather both. The "problem" is that they simultaneously one foot in and one foot out.” cf.:

[17] The concept of nation-state is a European concept, which emerged especially during the French Revolution, and refers to the sovereignty of a people sharing the same territory and cultural heritage. It implies at the same time, a certain cultural homogeneity. Western liberal democracies have been based initially on the idea of ​​nation-state that peoples have the right to dispose of themselves. It should be emphasized that this idea of ​​nation-state, to which I do not, today is a form of archaic, when the wild globalization in full swing and pushes the limits of liberal democracy by introducing, in particular Europe, technocrats. However, for political reasons, people continue to exhibit this card every time it comes to social stigmatization of minorities of all kinds.

[18] E. Balibar, La proposition de l’Egaliberté, PUF, 2010, p. 246.

[19] But this problem of community that we will not discuss here, is also a complicated problematic. From these different maltreatment that the Roma are object( but not only), we can deduce a kind of exclusive community or, that is the same approach, an effort to “eliminate” those who refuse to submit themselves  the community. It is the reason why that for Rancière, it is always question of one community against another.

[20] We also emphasize that the Roma have been in the context of World War II, eliminated in Nazi camps or internment in France. But this historical sequence has rarely been related by historians. The year 2010 was dedicated to the memory of the internment of Gypsies in France during World War II. In France, many Gypsy families (about six thousand men, women, elderly, and children) were interned in camps run by the French administration. This happened between 1940 and 1946. Gathered in the fall of 1940, in quarries and abandoned castles, the internees experienced soon after the camps more structured, administered by the prefectures and monitored by police, as in Pessac (Gironde), Moisdon-la-Rivière (Loire-Atlantique), and Poitiers (Vienne). Ends of 1941, Gypsies were grouped in regional camps: Montreuil-Bellay (Maineet-Loire), Mulsanne (Sarthe), Jargeau (Loiret), Saint-Maurice-aux-Riches-Hommes (Yonne). Cold, hunger, lack of hygiene overcame the most fragile. Gypsies expelled from Alsace-Lorraine in the summer of 1940 were interned in camps in Argeles-sur-Mer, Barcarès and Rivesaltes. In May 1942, the Vichy government created to Saliers (Bouches-du-Rhone), a camp for Tsiganes1. He welcomed the fall of 1942 Gypsies of Rivesaltes. In the Hautes-Pyrenees, the camp welcomed Lannemezan mostly foreign Gypsies.

[21] Balibar , La proposition de l’Egaliberte, p. 241.

[22]I would like to offer some reflexions on the concept of "state racism" setting the agenda for our meeting. These reflections are opposed to a widespread interpretation of recent actions by our government, since the law on the veil to the expulsions of Roma. This interpretation sees an opportunistic attitude to exploit the themes of racism and xenophobia for electoral purposes. This so-called critical and renewed the assumption that racism is a popular passion, the reaction frightened and irrational reactionary layers of the population, unable to adapt to the new mobile world and cosmopolitan. The state is accused of failing in its principle by being complacent with regard to these populations. But it is thus strengthened its position as representative of rationality against irrationality popular.

That provision of play adopted by the critical "left” is exactly the same on behalf of which the right has implemented over the last twenty years a number of racist laws and decrees. All these measures have been taken on behalf of the same argument: there are problems of crime and nuisances caused by illegal immigrants and that might provoke racism if we do not put good order. You should therefore submit these offenders and nuisances to the universality of the law so they do not create racial unrest.
It's a game that is played on the left and right, [...] is to oppose the popular passions universalist logic of the rational State, that is to say to give racist policies of state patent anti-racism. It is time to take the argument upside down and mark the solidarity between the "rationality" that controls the state and that other measures, the accomplice-adversary convenient as it is given as a foil, popular passion. In fact, this is not the government acting under the pressure of racism in response to popular passions of the so-called populist far right. This is the reason of State which maintains that other to whom he entrusts the imaginary management of its real legislation
”. cf. Jacques Rancière, “Le racisme: une passion d’en haut”,

[23] Emmanuel Filhol, « La loi de 1912 sur la circulation des « nomades » (Tsiganes) en France », Revue européenne des migrations internationales, vol. 23, n°2, 2007, mis en ligne le 1 octobre 2010. index4179.html


[25] research group on the Roma: “Roms de France, Roms en France: les gens du voyage”.

[26] Idem, p. 26.

[27] Idem.

[28] Idem, p. p. 27

[29] Attempts were made by applying a small number of municipalities have some sympathy for the Roma. The application relates in particular to the Besson Act II, forcing municipalities to address the problem of housing for Roma, as part of a comprehensive plan for social housing. But progress is still insignificant. But at the same time, no instance of control has occurred to force reluctant to obey.

[30] “Without constraint of the state, municipalities have refused to open up spaces to "Attract" the Roma, whom are all French till now, but considered as undesirable by the majority of people”. CEDIS, 2010, p. 28.

[31] E. Balibar, La proposition de l’Egaliberté, Essais Politique, Ed. Presse Universitaire de France, 2010, p. 244.

[32] J. Rancière, Et Tant pis pour les Gens Fatigués, “Politique et Esthétique”, Ed. Amsterdam, 2009, p. 463.

[33] See twentyonemiles: migrant struggles and resistance in Belgium, France and Switzerland website:

Friday, 20 January 2012 16:32

Taiwan arts in Toulouse

The Made In Asia Toulouse Festival will be held from January 25 to February 10, 2012

Created in 2008, by Didier Kimmoun, and brought to the stage by the Tchin-tchine association, the Made in Asia festival attempts to present Asian cultures in France. This year it proposes to highlight Taiwan contemporary creative works through its most talented artists, Hsu Yen Ling (徐堰鈴) and Wang XinXin (王心心). Events include dance performances, contemporary theatre, puppets shows, concerts, exhibitions and movie screenings!

The origin of the project, a passion for Asia Today

The founder of the festival spent part of his childhood in China: his father was a teacher in Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. He has always been attracted to Asian cultures. After several trips to China, he realized early on that Asian people know Western culture better than Westerners know Asian cultures. 'There is a gap between the knowledge in West Asia and Europe. This gap is greater in the cultural field: in Asia, Western culture is part of school curricula, which is not the case in France.' This observation led him to develop the project of a festival dedicated to Asia. 'I did not want an exotic festival for hippies from Yunnan. I wanted people to discover contemporary cultural life in Asia'.

The festival strives to make French people better understand the reality of contemporary Asia, its developments, its contradictions, and to build bridges between East and West.

In 2000, he met the Tchin-Tchine association which organized cultural events to promote Asia. ‘I proposed to develop an annual cultural week about China and opened it to other countries as well such as Vietnam and Korea. I wanted to propose different kinds of shows, including contemporary living arts, which are not so well known here. I had to convince the French programmers who were afraid of the audience reaction and had difficulty to conceive the existence of contemporary creative works in Asia '. Indeed, at this time, only Korea was known for its contemporary dance performances. 'It took time to find financial partners; I had to convince the city hall and government. I finally got a grant from the city hall'. To make up the deficit in the budget, he approached private companies, offering them projects such as the installation of Korean sculptures in a Hyundai shop in Labège from January 25 to February 18.

A festival of sharing and artistic exchange

Didier Kimmoun does not want the festival to be the only egg in his basket and so he develops artistic residencies and exchanges between Asian and French artists, in order to create bridges. That is why this year he welcomed the wonderful Wang XinXin, specialist in Nanguan, for a period of residency in collaboration with a baroque orchestra. Throughout the year he has also invited artists for residencies like in last November, when he invited an experinmental Japanese group led by Oriza Hirata, who presented 'Sayonara' played by Geminoid F. The next countries that will be featured at the festival will be Japan - due in part to the events that occurred in Fukushima - and also Singapore. In 2014/2015, there will be contemporary Chinese Opera. This year, the guest is Taiwan. Why Taiwan? Because 'this year was the centennial of the Republic of China and the Taiwanese artists, guardians of hungry Western ways of life and ancient Chinese culture, are very good at crossing between East and West, tradition and modernity ', he says.

Theatre, music, dance

The french audience will be able to admire the extraordinary performance of Hsu Yen Ling, one of the best Taiwanese actresses, in 'Remix - Hsu Yen-Ling x Sylvia Plath, the Monodrama of HSU Yen - Ling', written by Chou Man-Nung and staged by Baboo. Produced by the Shakespeare's Wild Sisters Group, it will be performed on January 25 and 26, at Théâtre Garonne. Another great performance will follow, dedicated to a younger audience: 'The Birth'*, produced by the East and the West and the Flying group, performed on February 4, in Mediatheque José Cabanis. This show mixes puppetry, shadow theatre and theatre: the first part of a trilogy, he takes the children and their parents into the dream of a little girl who, still in the womb of her mother, discovers the world. This dreamy and poetic trip is interpreted by the talented Chou Jung Shih, accompanied live by Wang Yu Jun, a gifted young musician. Besides this, the festival also welcomes Shang Chi Sun, a young choreographer and talented dancer with 'Traverse' on January 27 in Espace Bonnefoy, and the fabulous Wen Chi Su with 'Loop me', a multimedia dance performance signed by Yilab. The Ten Drums Art Percussion Group, from the South of Taiwan, based in Tainan, composed of 10 amazing percussionists, will perform 'the charm of Taiwan', a tribute to spiritual Taiwanese traditions, on February 3 at the salle Nougaro. The XinXin Nanguan Ensemble, led by the majestic Wang XinXin, will present ' the Passions', a musical dialogue between Nanguan, a Chinese traditional instrument, and Baroque music, in collaboration with Passions Orchestra - Orchestra Baroque of Montauban, under the direction of Jean-Marc Andrieu. This concert where Chinese and Baroque music are revisited will allow the audience to discover all the vocal and instrumental virtuosity of Jiang Nan and Wang XinXin on February 8 at the Capitol Theatre.


Focus on REMIX: Hsu Yen-Ling + Sylvia Plath, A red-hot mono-drama

Remix, Hsu Yen Ling's mono-drama, is inspired by fever 103, a poem written by Sylvia Plath and deals with the last moments of Sylvia Plath’s life. This last was an American poetess haunted by the idea of death, who killed herself, despaired by love, when she was 30. Hsu Yen ling, fascinating and disturbing, plays magnificently and brilliantly Plath's character: she becomes completely this hurt woman, wild animal tortured by abused love and sickness. She's belching, yelling, sighing, murmuring with fervor, violence, and despair the poetess' words, rewritten by Chou Man-Nung – young Taiwanese author. This poetical rewriting shows the extent of the talent of the young actress, here, in one of her best performances. Baboo's art direction is very rhythmic and spread intelligently and soberly the poetic whisper of this tortured writing. It swings between foolish and indolent scenes, showing the ambiguous relationships between Plath and her father, Plath and her husband, both beloved and hated men of her life. The spectator becomes the witness of the actress' inner truth revelation: Ms. Hsu defends body and soul this American author unknown in France. Ms Plath used to live in her husband's shadow, a famous poet, and suffered from the cruelty of a patriarchal society. We warmly recommend it to the audience.

Young Taiwanese creation in the fields of cinema and fine arts

Many exhibitions complete the program: elaborated in collaboration with the Cultural Centre of Taiwan in Paris, under the advice of its Director, Mr. Chen, specialist in Fine Arts, former Professor and artist himself, the audience is invited to various places in Toulouse to have a look at contemporary Taiwanese art. This is the opportunity to meet Yong - Ning Tzeng, with two exhibitions from 25 January to 11 February, in Espace Bonnefoy - opening January 27 - and from 31 January to 5 February, at Place Commune, opening on February 2. Gallery Lemniscate will host from 26 January to 26 February - opening January 26- Mia Liu Wen Hsuan with her paper sculptures. Char Wei Tsai, for his part, will explore the process of transformation. Chi-Tsung Wu who experiments with simple processes in the manufacture of images in reference to traditional painting work will be in residency from January 15 to February 1 and will present his work from 2 to 25 February in Maison Salvan in Labège - opening February 2 at 19: 00. Young Video maker Cheng Ta Yu interested in the human body will be from the 2 to February 25 in Pavillon Blanc- Colomiers - opening February 2 at 7 pm. This palette of artists unveils the creative diversity of the Taiwanese artists in resonance with current issues.

The surprise of the Chief: Mister Candle

In the heart of the Asian village, one could try martial arts, kitchen workshops, and Asian food and attend the parade of the New Year with the dance of the dragon, accompanied by drums and a release of lanterns on 28 and 29 January. This will be the opportunity to see a young Taiwanese artist, the enigmatic Mister Candle, Huang Ming-Cheng, in residence in the village. Mister Candle is the last discovery Didier Kimmoun made during his recent trip to Taiwan. This young Acrobat has a delirious project and will work with circus artists from Toulouse and Barcelona. His artistic project is to take a photo of himself in the position of the candle in various places of the island, in a market or on a moped, bringing a particular look at the fragility of the world he looks backwards and wants to make a 15 year world tour. A gallery of his suspended photos will be shown during the festival. Didier Kimmoun is interested in his artistic posture, his authentic approach in acquaintance with his very lifestyle. Enjoy it!



*More on the Birth, follow the link:

More detail on



Tuesday, 27 December 2011 16:59

Flowers of Liberty

On October 3rd, 2011, I embarked with dancer Kao Yu-i and musician Yang Zijie on a theatrical tour to Marseille, France. We gave five performances in five different parts of the city. Here is a video excerpt from the fourth performance which took place at the Alcazar library on October 14th:

"Segments from two separate dreams create a beautiful moment shining through lucid shadows
Heading towards an unknown, far away destination, the people gradually disperse
In the dream, everyone has already passed away, gathered in the tranquil darkness;
when an object is stripped to its essence, the only thing we can see out from the darkness, is light
Dead branches protrude awkwardly from the lifeless beaches, yet sprout new roots
I hope you will come and be with me, in the existing and happening present."

(Photo by Yurasleepless)

Thursday, 30 June 2011 15:17

Taiwan's 5th appearance at local Avignon festival

For the fifth consecutive year, Avignon Off Festival, located in the South of France, welcomes several Taiwanese groups. Among the invited companies are WC Dance Company created by Lin Wen-Chung, who used to work with the famous Taipei Folk Dance Theatre, and the internationally recognized Ten Drum Art Percussion Group, led by the talented percussionist master Chiu Ya-Hui. This year, for a better understanding of the shows by the French audience, the Cultural Center of Taiwan focused on dance and music. The previous year, they presented more theatrical performances, which though beautiful one, were however more difficult for non-Chinese audiences.

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