The Paris Home and European Space ca. 1945-1965

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Hugh McDonnell, Independent Scholar


    Today ‘Europe’ is commonly conflated with European political integration, evoking inter-state summits or the machinery and regalia of Brussels. Meanwhile terms like ‘European values’ are often taken as self-evident. Yet, a certain poverty of geographical and historical perspective obscures the fact that there are many versions of Europe and many understandings of Europeanness, which are articulated or manifest themselves in many different spaces and differently over time. This paper, then, looks at the home in Paris in the two post-war decades as a particularly propitious example of the varying, and indeed conflicting or contradictory, understandings of what Europe and Europeanness have been taken to mean. Moreover, the Paris home offers a particularly propitious vantage point to grasp shifting articulations of notions of Europe and Europeanness with those of France and Frenchness, including presuppositions as to their relationship with Republicanism, universalism, postcolonialism and cosmopolitanism. Accordingly the reconfiguration of the urban space of Paris in the wake of the experience of the Second World War, and its impact on the habitability of the city, is examined as an exercise that was undertaken with Europe as a guiding standard. The dual affective and concrete senses of home were particularly relevant in regard to the influx into metropolitan France of both European Algerians and Algerian Muslims. Europe and Europeanness are identified as key terms in the attempt to rationalise their absorption into Paris and to manage their accommodation. Different registers of Europeanness are further explored as terms of ethnicisation of more and less desirable inhabitants in the city, and which impacted especially on Algerian immigrants. Furthermore, discourses of Europeanness and non-Europeanness are analysed in terms of their application to devalue areas of the city populated particularly densely by these North Africans, above all the city’s shantytowns.