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Carte de Séjour: revisiting ‘Arabness’ and anti-racism in 1980s France

  • Barbara Lebrun (a1)
Abstract

The French rock group Carte de Séjour rose to national fame in 1986 with their Charles Trenet cover ‘Douce France’, a North African-inflected song that provided an ironic commentary on the ties that bind Maghrebi immigrants and their descendants to France. Journalists and academics have hailed Carte de Séjour as the first example of an empowered beur music group in French popular culture, but their lack of extended success tells a different story. This article is the first full-length academic study to examine Carte de Séjour's exact contribution to French popular music and to the so-called beur and anti-racist movements of the 1980s. By questioning the common view regarding the ‘subversive’ power of French-Maghrebi artists, this article argues that Carte de Séjour's lack of success was due to their controversial representation of ‘Arabness’ in music and performance, their instrumentalisation by the Socialist Party, and their conflictual relationship with France's intellectual and political establishment at the time.

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Popular Music
  • ISSN: 0261-1430
  • EISSN: 1474-0095
  • URL: /core/journals/popular-music
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