The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Patrick Weil: How to Be French

"How to Be French: Old and New Challenges Around French Citizenship"

Mon, November 16, 2009 | JGB 2.216

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM

What does it mean to be French?  Does it consist in being born and raised in France, regardless of one's country of origin or ancestry?

Or in having French ancestors?  Or is it a concept linked to a common national history?  Or, rather, the belief in the common values of the French Republic: liberty, equality, fraternity?  The past twenty-five years have witnessed the development of a heated political debate that not only rages on today, but that has also divided the French on the question of nationality and what it means to consider oneself francais.  In Patrick Weil's view, the history of the legal dimension of this issue clarifies a central element of this debate; it is an element that is linked to past forms of discrimination and their representation, and that will render it possible to understand why some French people--citizens according to French law--still feel they are foreigners in their own country.

Patrick Weil is senior research fellow at CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) and serves as the director of CEPIC (Center for the Study of Immigration, Integration and Citizenship Policies) at the University of Paris 1-Sorbonne. He has studied and published on Comparative Immigration, Citizenship and Integration Policies. His most recent books are How to be French: The Making of a Nationality Since 1789, Duke University Press, 2008 (translation by Cathy Porter); La Republique et sa diversite (The Republic and its Diversity), Paris, Seuil, 2005; and in co. ed. with Stephane Dufoix, L'esclavage, la colonisation et apres... France, Etats-Unis, Royaume-Uni (Slavery, Colonization and After...France, USA, UK), Paris, Presses universitaires de France, 2005.

In 1997, he was appointed by the French government to write a report on immigration and nationality policy reform.  This report served as the basis for the immigration and nationality laws passed at the French Parliament in 1998.  In 2003, he served as a member of the Presidential Commission created by President Jacques Chirac on the 'Implementation of the principle of Secularism within the French Republic'. Since 2005, he has served as a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

Book Signing to Follow Talk

Sponsored by: The France-UT Institute and The Center for European Studies

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