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(Inter)racialization: the regulation of domestic and urban space in housing North African migrants in post-colonial France

by Rébecca Suzanne Franco

Submission summary

As Contributors: Rébecca Franco
Preprint link: scipost_202106_00012v2
Date submitted: 2021-12-02 14:35
Submitted by: Franco, Rébecca
Submitted to: Migration Politics
Academic field: Political Science
  • Migration Politics


Literature on immigrant housing and assimilation has shown how housing policies perpetuate, create, and contest racialized boundaries. This paper argues for the necessity to look at regulation of the domestic space together with regulation urban space. By reading “along” and “against” the archival grain of the French national archives and the Paris city archives, this paper looks at housing policies that targeted the North African migrant population in the 1960s and 1970s in France as colonial continuities. French authorities ostensibly encouraged gendered assimilation through spatial politics and interventions in the domestic space. Literature on the French context has argued how this perpetuated racialization in the housing process. Building upon feminist scholarship on gender, intimacy, and colonialism, this paper shows how these policies negated interracialized households and prevented interracialized intimacies. This helps understand how housing policies can reinforce racialized exclusion by regulating racial boundaries in urban space and domestic space together to negate and prevent interracialized housholds.

Current status:
Editor-in-charge assigned

Author comments upon resubmission

Dear esteemed colleagues,

I would like to thank the reviewers and editor for their time and highly constructive and valuable criticisms, and the opportunity to send in a revised manuscript.

As the reviewers and editor will find, I have made substantial changes in the structure of the article to incorporate the feedback. In general, I have made the argument on the regulation of interracialized households and intimacies more central to the analysis. I have also moved away from the discussion on contemporary politics of social mixture, and instead, focused on a contextualized discussion of assimilation to explain the regulation of interracialisation. Please see the list of changes for a point-by-point list of all revisions I have made to the manuscript.

I hope that you will find the revisions and the point-by-point changes satisfactory, and I look forward to your response,

Kind regards,

The author

List of changes

Dear colleagues,

Below, I outline how my revised article incorporates the responses to the issues listed in the reviewers’ reports and editor’s report asking for revisions of the text. I will list below point-by-point changes I have made to the manuscript, based on the editor’s reports and the reviewers’ reports.

1) All reviewers point to a need to make the main argument more visible. They suggest making for example the incorporation of “interracialization” into the analysis more central to the presentation of the argument, especially by discussing how it contributes to existing research (see review 1). This could be the point of entry for the article, and would allow you to address issues of gender and spatial and racial segregation as well as the issue of French wives from this starting point (see review 2).

In response to this valuable suggestion, I rewrote the introduction to centre interracialization and interracialized intimacies instead of focussing on contemporary debates on “mixite sociale” in France (see page 1-2).
I moreover restructured the paper to bring the issue of interracialisation more central to the analysis. To do so, I have introduced the topic of interracialized households earlier in the paper (page 8). Moreover, I have brought together under one section the regulation of interracialized intimacies through the housing policies targeting single men (page 14-16). This also attests to reviewer 3’s helpful suggestion to bring the regulation of interracialized intimacies more into focus.

2) All reviewers also point that, while they were curious as to the notion of “sterilized assimilation”, the notion a) lacks a definition; b) does not feature so prominently in the paper. My suggestion would be to question whether you truly need this expression to make your point in the article. The notion of interracialization, or the cross-analysis of domestic and urban spaces both seem to bring enough material to your argument.

Following the helpful comments on the insufficient development of the concept of “sterilized assimilation”, I have taken out this concept and instead focused on the developed of the cross-analysis of domestic and urban space to look at the regulation of interracialized intimacies and households.

3) This also relates to the need for a contextualized definition of assimilation. As such, the paper is sometimes characterized by anachronistic analyses (see review 3), mixing contemporary debates or definitions with the context of the 1960s and 1970s.

Following this important feedback, I have re-shifted the focus from contemporary debates on mixing to interracialized intimacies and interracialization.
To do so, I discuss the meaning of assimilation more elaborately to strengthen the argument on why interracialized households and intimacies are negated and prevented. To this end, I have incorporated a new section on “hierarchies of assimilability” in which I set out a contextualized meaning of assimilation, rooted in colonial logics (page 6-8). Subsequently, I show how the housing policies regulate interracialized intimacies and households to consolidate hierarchies of assimilation. In doing so, I have also tried to respond to reviewer 2’s reservation on the bringing together of heterogeneous points of, on the one hand, the regulation of single men in foyers and, on the other hand, gendered assimilation.

4) Finally, this also connects to a need for more precision in the historical perspective you use. Review 1 underlines the need for more detail on the analytical procedures used in the archive. I would add that it would be very useful to know which period you study and discuss exactly, as “post-colonial” seems a rather large time-span.

Following the important point on the necessity to bring precision to the historical and methodological approach, I have elaborated on the archives and archival theory in the methods section, to better explain how I came to my material and the necessity of critical archival methodology.

5) reviewers suggest references that might be useful.

I would like to thank the many helpful reference suggestions, and have included many of the suggestions.

In addition to the editor’s report, I would like to respond to the addititional and more specific feedback in reviewers’ reports.

1. I would also suggest making the arguments in this paper more strongly, for example by stating how housing policies are an example of racial project (Omi and Winant 1994) in a seemingly non-racial society.

Following reviewers 1 suggestion to understand the housing policies as “racial projects”, I have included Omi and Winant’s understanding of racial projects on page 1.

2. Towards the end of the article, the author references the contradiction of social mixite with marginalization and segregation, but really this is not a contradiction, especially in the context of France. I would suggest making the point a bit more strongly – that race becomes activated or salient in the same between the two.

I agree with reviewer’s 1 remark on that mixture and marginalization are not a contradiction, and have taken this analylsis out of the manuscript.

3. you may better develop why temporary housing and cite de transit had a repressive character.

I have expanded on the repressive character of the foyer (page 15 ) and cite de transit (page 10).

4. There is probably a point related to trust and distrust of French authorities that could be better developed. Probably you can mobilize classic work by Weber and Schluchter. Trust conceptualized in a Weberian manner, is strictly related to conventional forms of link between individuals, procedures, and institutions. Trust in migrants and their family-making practices is not structured by impersonality or regulation, but by the lacking of proof of recognition

Whereas I value this insight, I believe this would necessitate another reading of the archives. I have included the argument on the lack of recognition (page 14) to underline how this enabled the authorities to segregate and ‘mix’ migrant families under the guise of assimilation.

5. Concerning the abstract: your beautiful paper deserves a better abstract. Your current abstract is not attractive. I suggest rewriting it and clearly state your theoretical framework, your sources, archive, main results, the gap in the literature you are able to fill. At the moment, is too generic, just pointing the topic, and not your main discoveries and results, and why it is new for the literature on housing and assimilation.

Following this valuable feedback, I have completely rewritten the abstract to better showcase the results and its contribution to the literature.

6. Please add a table with sources and archive information

I have added a table to provide the necessary information on the archival sources.

Again, I would like to thank the reviewers and the editor for the helpful and encouraging feedback that greatly helped improve my manuscript.

Kind regards,

The author

Reports on this Submission

Anonymous Report 1 on 2022-1-1 (Invited Report)


This is an important article, and I am very honoured to evaluate the second version of the paper. Without a doubt, the article should be published as soon as possible.

Still, a little bit of work is needed, but for sure, it does not require any substantial revision work in its structure.

I’ve appreciated a lot the work done on the paper!
The abstract is much clearer, even if there is a typo in its last line.

The new introduction is better than the previous one and more focused. It helps the reader and avoids redundant conceptualisations. I consider it essential, sorry to insist, to include the trust dimension. I'm afraid I disagree that including a precise language on trust will require archive work, but just more theoretical precision. Your paper deals with trust dimensions, and it is a pity not to treat them with a precise conceptual language. Especially in a feminist framework, how the state trusts or mistrust categories of individuals is a foundational analytical dimension. It could be quick to do, looking at the Weberian legacy to cope with the trust/mistrust issue in the section on the regulation of interracialised intimacies through the housing policies targeting single men. It seems that you can better specify the basis of interracialised intimacies regulation: aren’t they based on mistrust and a sense of threat?
It also seems that your main argument related to the fact that in France, race becomes salient in the context of social mix & marginalisation requires a bit of reference to the rich literature in urban planning and, broadly speaking in French urban studies: could be relevant to reinforce your argument to relate to Clément Boisseuil important paper Boisseuil, C. Governing ambiguity and implementing cross-sectoral programmes: urban regeneration for social mix in Paris. J Hous and the Built Environ 34, 425–440 (2019). Equally, you can relate to Christian Lefèvre et al. contribution on how the same way of governing housing policy in the suburbs remains related to the kind of regulatory criteria you analysed for the ’50s and ’60s (see "Les défis de la gouvernance métropolitaine." (2013): pp. 21-34).
I appreciate your reference to the work of Fabien Jobard, which was missing in your paper. Still, your choice of looking at the same time at what the government has done and what has omitted to do is essential in studying local regulation of immigration. I suggest making your choice more explicit and referring to chapter 22 on immigration and assimilation in the most recent book of historical-comparative sociology of the state in Europe (Reconfiguring European States in Crisis, edited by Desmond King and Patrick Le Galès).
Last but not least: concerning the reactivation of old colonial stereotypes of Muslim men as non-sociable sexually violent men, it would be interesting for you to reinforce your argument relating to the work of Nonna Mayer & al. showing how, in the last 30 years, the stereotypes about Muslim men have only slightly decreased in France: you can easily refer to the open edition of Mayer et al. 2021 long contribution to the cncdh report: "Mise en perspective de trente ans d’évolution par les chercheurs.", pp 33-111.

Overall, this is an excellent article. It is an important, profound, and generative article, and I hope the above comments are helpful to the author.

  • validity: good
  • significance: high
  • originality: good
  • clarity: good
  • formatting: excellent
  • grammar: good

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