Flora Hergon

From Algiers To Seine-Saint-Denis - Neocolonial Urban Policies In Parisian Banlieues?
Development Studies
Spring 2017

Since the 2005 revolts in many French inner cities, social scientists have intensified their research on the “banlieues question”. This unprecedented violence mainly from racialized subjects against the French Republican state led to various interpretations. Tensions in inner cities, or banlieues, would be either a reflection of a “clash of civilizations” or it would be the result of socio-economic marginalization. However, analyses regarding uprisings in banlieues as similar to anti-colonial revolts in former French colonial cities due to a neocolonial spatial segregation remain largely unexplored or silenced. That is why I investigate the influence of French urban policies in colonial Algiers on the spatial organization of Parisian banlieues from the 1930s onwards. The analysis of architectural aesthetics, urban administration and housing policies between colonial Algiers and the Seine-Saint-Denis department may bring out some evidences concerning a structural continuity between colonial policies and the current management of banlieues. Similar to spatial segregation and the establishment of a modern secular public space in Algiers during colonial rule, I want to ask the way in which French urban policies allow the French Republic to create a neocolonial space that reproduces spatial segregation between “full-French” citizens and postcolonial French subjects in banlieues today. Secondly, I want to examine how urban policies define a public space that does not tolerate any religious practices outside of the private sphere. I especially want to interrogate if the production of modern large-scale housing projects has intensified a masculine secular public space and a feminine religious private sphere that would keep isolating Muslim practicing women, first in Algiers during colonial rule and in the banlieues today.