Challenging the Republic: Interpreting the 2005 Urban Violence in French Suburbs

Abstract

In autumn 2005, the French ‘quartiers sensibles’ exploded into violence. The deaths of Bouna Traoré and Zyed Benna, two young inhabitants of the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, proved to be the spark that ignited the profound underlying ‘malaise’ of these problem suburbs. For three weeks the attention of French, and indeed world media, was focused on the infamous ‘banlieues’ as cars burned (up to 1400 cars were set alight in a single night at the height of the violence), buildings were attacked, and inhabitants of the suburbs clashed with the forces of order. This paper will use the 2005 riots as a means of exploring the sociocultural situation in the ‘quartiers sensibles’; and, on a larger scale, the challenge posed by these areas to the ideological concept of French republicanism and the historically-rooted notion of the ‘one and indivisible French Republic’.

Keywords

French republicanism, violence, riots

How to Cite

Moran, M., (2008) “Challenging the Republic: Interpreting the 2005 Urban Violence in French Suburbs”, Opticon1826 4. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/opt.040808

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Matthew Moran (UCL)

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