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Title: Immigration and citizenship in post-colonial Europe : a comparative analysis of Britain and France
Author: Xidias, Jason
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 2278
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Britain and France are two rival nations that have much in common. They were Europe’s two largest colonial empires, they completed their last phase of decolonisation after 1945, and they have received substantial immigration from their ex-colonies. Furthermore, they are presently two of Europe’s most diverse societies and lie at the core of media coverage on immigration, cultural pluralism, citizenship, integration, and identity. Despite these commonalities, and others, Britain and France have been long portrayed in academic studies, politics, and the media as antithetical citizenship ‘models’: the French have framed republicanism in opposition to their perceived Other, ‘the Anglo- Saxon model’ of race relations, ethnic markers, and communitarianism, whereas the British have generally represented the French as a colour-blind, multi-cultural society in denial. Recently, scholarly literature has emerged that has called into question this longstanding dichotomy. In light of globalisation, European integration, and post-9/11 securitisation, a small number of scholars have argued that national differences are becoming irrelevant, or even that supranational norms and structures have superseded the nationstate. This thesis contributes to this important debate by providing a detailed comparative analysis of the complexities that have shaped immigration, citizenship, discrimination, and resistance in post-colonial Britain and France and by critically assessing some of their key similarities and differences. Drawing on a combination of national and media archives, European archives, government and NGO reports, legal documents, semi-structured interviews, and secondary literature, this research examines the strong yet ambiguous links between capitalism, European colonialism, post-colonial immigration, and contemporary social relations. It details the problematic gap between abstract liberal and republican ideals of citizenship and structural inequalities in practice. Furthermore, it argues that despite many examples of convergence in discourses and policies over time, immigration and citizenship developments in post-colonial Britain and France have varied significantly because of different histories, nation-building processes, frames of reference, institutional structures, and power distributions, which have shaped distinct articulations, lived experiences, social struggles, and policy processes and outcomes. This conclusion situates this research between the two opposing academic camps described above, but places it closer to the ‘polarised approach’ insofar as it highlights the persistent relevance of nation-states as a unit of analysis and national differences. This research also critically examines the relevance of ‘post-colonialism’ to European integration and the pursuit of a ‘common’ migration and citizenship regime. Scholarly literature has overlooked largely this important element because it has focused too narrowly on the French-German question. The author finds that post-war European integration was a means by which Europe’s former colonial powers sought to compensate colonial losses, perpetuate colonial power structures, and collectively exert influence internationally, in the aftermath of the Second World War and in the midst of decolonisation. Finally, this thesis reflects on whether the European Union can advance a solution to the ethno-cultural shortcomings of national citizenship. It finds that the EU, as a blurry extension of nation-states, was built on, and has evolved on, a specific logic of capitalism and imperialism based on a duality of inclusion and exclusion, which reproduces divisions both within Europe and externally towards third country nationals. While today the EU does provide some space for transnational contestation and the advancement of minority rights, this research finds that this occurs in an environment in which market expansion, security, and co-option take precedence over human rights. Consequently, the author calls into question the prevailing frame among transnational groups that more power for European institutions equates to more justice and inclusion. Rather, it is suggested that activists must see the European Union as an extension of national, ethno-cultural shortcomings rather than narrowly as a progressive, ‘post-national solution’. Overall, this project illuminates the lived experiences of discrimination, the struggles to overcome them, the fundamental role of the state in producing and reproducing divisions, and the ambiguous ways in which Britain and France’s colonial past has shaped and continues to shape power structures and social relations. By doing this, it diverts attention from the dominant, current discourse in politics and the media that ahistorically and simplistically links ‘excessive permissiveness’ and ‘the failed integration of ethnic minorities’ with ‘declining national values’ and societal breakdown, and places the emphasis, rather, on the underlying structural causes of contested citizenship.
Supervisor: Kouvelakis, Stathis ; Callinicos, Alexander Theodore Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available