Particular universalisms: North African immigrants respond to French racism

Michèle Lamont, Ann Morning, Margarita Mooney

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article examines how ordinary victims of racism rebut racist beliefs communicated to them by the mass media and encountered in daily life. We describe the rhetorical devices that North African immigrant men in France use to respond to French racism, drawing on thirty in-depth interviews conducted with randomly selected blue-collar immigrants residing in the Paris suburbs. We argue that while French anti-racist rhetorics, both elite and popular, draw on universalistic principles informed by the Enlightenment as well as French Republican ideals. North African immigrants rebut racism by drawing instead on their daily experience and on a 'particular universalism', i.e. a moral universalism informed by Islam. Their arguments frequently centre on claims of equality or similarity between all human beings, or between North Africans and the French. Available cultural repertoires and the structural positions of immigrants help to account for the rhetorical devices that immigrants use to rebut racism.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)390-414
    Number of pages25
    JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 2002


    • Anti-racism
    • France
    • Immigrants
    • North Africans
    • Racism
    • Rhetoric

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Sociology and Political Science


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