In France, the convergence of black experiences in Paris, following the 1950s-1960s massive migrations from the Caribbean and Africa, generated significant social and cultural practices, which, for most, have remained unknown to French people. Rather, the national collective imagination has been marked by striking, powerful and widely broadcasted images: the special forces violently evacuating African families who occupied Saint Bernard church and asked the government for long-term visas or, conversely, the victory of the “Black‐Blanc‐Beur” soccer team in 1998. These events made black people visible but their diversity was ignored. Yet, the social and human sciences did not fully seize the complexity of such histories and trajectories. Instead, scientific and public productions were - and are - fragmented into area and disciplinary studies and tend to produce a unified and homogenizing image of these populations. Some scholars like Pascal Blanchard and al. (2001) interrogated the representations of blackness in the French culture and criticized the enduring invisibility of blacks in French history. They brought to light the names of famous ones like René Maran who were left aside the national narrative. Developing a historical and political posture, they recollected pieces of the French past. Others, like Milena Doytcheva (2011), analyzed the role of ethnicity in urban public policies thus providing a valuable understanding of the tension between universalism and multiculturalism in the French context. From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, other studies on “diversity” came out, unveiling important social processes and mechanisms, but not opening to a true analysis putting “blackness” at the center. Similarly, blackness was not explored in connection with the city.
In our post-Black Atlantic world exploring creolization, the cultural, social and economic connections between Africa, America or the Caribbean, it no longer seems possible to consider black Paris only in its locality or solely in relation to French history. Rather, one should consider how black populations in Western societies - notably in European societies - imagine the city in connection with multiples scales intermingling American, African, European, Asian worlds so to represent their composite cultures and identities. Following these routes (Clifford: 1997), reflecting on black Paris implies showing how this cultural and social diversity is epitomized in the “city of light”.
The editors are seeking papers that examine black Paris through circulation, interaction and confrontation between people, cultures, identities and social practices. Contributors are encouraged to explore black Paris as a nexus of transcontinental cultural, identity, political and economic networks through a variety of perspectives, disciplines and fields including theoretical works, literary and cultural studies, the arts and popular culture, social and urban policies.