University of California, Santa Barbara
Dena Montague is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Center for Black Studies Research University of California, Santa Barbara. Her research focuses on race and ethnicity in France.
Paris Rebels: Zoulous, Hip Hop, and Resistance
How did racist and anti-racist violence in the 1980s and 90s impact notions of Blackness and Black community in France? How did the police’s complicity with skinhead and neo-Nazis attacks against immigrants and people of color inspire radical Black activism in French society? Drawing on a film that I am currently completing in collaboration with filmmaker and producer Yvonne Welbon, entitled, Paris Rebels, I focus on an anti-racism group, scarcely documented or even remembered, that emerged during this period in direct response to such assaults, a group highly influenced by the U.S. Black Panthers and hip hop of that era: “The Zoulous.” In so doing, this presentation will deconstruct the relationship between communitarianism—an invented term deployed to affirm that notions of (undesired) community are anti-Republican—violence, nation and perpetual marginalization of Blacks in France. While the etymology of communitarianism is normatively understood as a neutral reflection of democratic values, it functions fundamentally as a politicized, exclusionary discourse and weapon for controlling, if not destroying, the communities that French Republicanism has nonetheless fostered/created. The existence and interventions of “The Zoulous” are the evidence of that fact.