The IES Research Colloquium: Camille Desmares

April 8, 2019

Camille Desmares, Ph.D. student (Political Science, UBC): “Naturalization Policy and Exclusionary Politics of Belonging in France (1945-1973)”

Lunch will be served at 12:00 pm
12:15 pm
CK Choi, Rm. #351

Abstract – Despite the dismantling of racially-stratified naturalization regimes following World War II, Western democratic states have increasingly resorted to ‘integration requirements’ to assess which immigrants should become citizens. Language proficiency, society knowledge and value commitments have become key proxies of immigrants’ assimilation within host societies. In parallel, Western democratic states have multiplied preferential rules facilitating access to citizenship by groups of population sharing common ethnic and cultural roots. These policy changes raise the question of the enduring influence of identity considerations in shaping post-war naturalization regulations, regardless of policy-makers’ claims to universalism and non-discrimination. In this paper, I question the “tale of progressive incorporation” (Bosniak, 2006, p. 29) of post-war naturalization regulations by analyzing the impact of policy-makers’ conceptions of the host community’s communal identity on the delineation of conditions of citizenship acquisition in France in the period 1945-1973. I use a politics of belonging theoretical framework and I adopt an interpretive methodological approach to analyze parliamentary debates, legal documents (i.e. laws, decrees, orders, circulars) and governmental commissions’ reports surrounding the development, the amendment and the implementation of French naturalization policies. Contra dominant interpretations of the liberalization of post-war naturalization regulations, preliminary findings show that ethnocultural and sometimes racialist considerations have been paramount in shaping new membership rules. Additionally, by framing the acquisition of French citizenship as a legal favor offered to the ones who ‘deserve’ it, by leaving a high discretionary power to French authorities as to who gets to become a French citizen, and by maintaining the possibility of forfeiture of citizenship, republican naturalization policies of the postwar era have remained highly exclusionary and have reified distinctions between prospective naturalized foreigners, already naturalized foreigners, and French citizens.