564.7 Where are you from? The case of France

Friday, August 3, 2012: 1:42 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Stéphanie CASSILDE , CEPS/INSTEAD, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg
Focusing on the case of France, this research is based on literature (autobiographic evidences, researches, conference papers, and magazines), informal and spontaneous talks, and my own experience. The material I use benefits the respondent point of view, which is more accessible through published autobiographic evidences (Belhaddad, 2001, Kelman, 2003, and Xenakis, 2004/2005), and novels (Mansouri, 2011: 95). However, the reported reaction following the answer to the “Where are you from?” question reveals the asking person point of view.

The “Where are you from?” question occurs when “you” is identified as different by the asking person. The later might not be aware of the assignation to otherness, which belongs to the “Where are you from?” question. Moreover, she/he might be benevolent while asking this question, for example, demonstrating openness and interest regarding another culture.

The respondent learn the real meaning of the “Where are you from?” question by iteration. Initially, she/he can commit a naïve answer. But the repetition of this question clearly invalidates such an answer. During childhood and adolescence, respondents learn first that this is an assignation to otherness, and second that asking persons might be unaware of this meaning. They learn what a good or a bad answer is with regard to this question. They learn that this assignation to otherness refers to what make them identified as different. They learn that this question refers to a founding event. They learn that they are expected to report this event. They learn that they can even reduce themselves to this founding event. They learn that belonging to the nation will be always a challenge, whatever their efforts. Nevertheless, respondents to the “Where are you from?” question still believe in the French republican project, either requiring to become “transparent” (Silva, 2007), or focusing on equity promise through collective strategies.