Over the past three decades, neither France's treatment of Muslims nor changes in French, British, and German immigration laws have confirmed multiculturalist hopes or postnationalist expectations. Yet analyses positing unified national models also fall short in explaining contemporary issues of national and cultural identity. Immigration, Islam, and the Politics of Belonging in France: A Comparative Framework presents a more productive, multifaceted view of citizenship and nationality. Political scientist Elaine R. Thomas casts new light on recent conflicts over citizenship and national identity in France, as well as such contentious policies as laws restricting Muslim headscarves. Drawing on key methods and insights of ordinary language philosophers from Austin to Wittgenstein, Thomas looks at parliamentary debates, print journalism, radio and television transcripts, official government reports, legislation, and other primary sources related to the rights and status of immigrants and their descendants. Her analysis of French discourse shows how political strategies and varied ideas of membership have intertwined in France since the late 1970s.
Thomas tracks the crystallization of a restrictive but apparently consensual interpretation of French republicanism, arguing that its ideals are increasingly strained, even as they remain politically powerful. Thomas also examines issues of Islam, immigration, and culture in other settings, including Britain and Germany. Immigration, Islam, and the Politics of Belonging in France gives scholarly researchers, political observers, and human rights advocates tools for better characterizing and comparing the theoretical stakes of immigration and integration and advances our understanding of an increasingly significant aspect of ethnic and religious politics in France, Europe, and beyond.