Presentation of Abdellali Hajjat’s, The Wretched of France; The 1983 March for Equality and Against Racism. The publisher’s blurb summarizes it well: “In 1983—as France struggled with race-based crimes, police brutality, and public unrest—youth from Vénissieux (a working-class suburb of Lyon) led the March for Equality and Against Racism, the first national demonstration of its type in France. As Prof. Hajjat reveals, the historic March for Equality and Against Racism concretized the experience of the children of postcolonial immigrants. Inspired by the May ’68 protests, these racialized children of immigrants stood against racist crimes, for equality before the law and the police, and for basic rights such as the right to work and housing. Hajjat also considers the divisions that arose from the march and offers fresh insight into the paradoxes and intricacies of movements pushing for sweeping social change.
Translated into English for the first time, The Wretched of France analyzes the protest’s lasting significance in France as well as its impact within the context of larger and comparable movements for civil rights, particularly in the US.
Bio: Abdellali Hajjat is Associate Professor of Sociology at the Université libre de Bruxelles. Previously, he was Associate Professor of Political Science at the University Paris Nanterre (2010-2019) and EURIAS Junior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (University of Edinburgh). He recently published Islamophobia in France. How the elites forged the “Muslim problem” (University of Georgia Press, 2022, with Marwan Mohammed), The Wretched of France: The 1983 March for Equality and Against Racism (Indiana University Press, 2022) and Les frontières de l’“identité nationale”: l’injonction à l’assimilation en France métropolitaine et coloniale (La Découverte, 2012). His research interests are: citizenship and race in French law; urban uprisings and political mobilizations by postcolonial immigrants in France in working-class neighborhoods, particularly in May 68 and afterwards; Islamophobia as a “total social fact”, construction of the “Muslim problem” and redefinition of French secularism; hate crime and criminal justice system; postcolonial controversies in Belgium.