Cité Teens Talking Back: North African French Adolescents' Everyday Identity Performances

Glickman Center RLP 1.302B
Dr. Chantal Tetreault Associate Professor of Anthropology The University of Michigan

The University of Texas Department of French and Italian French Linguistics Speaker Series

This lecture showcases ethnographic research and discourse analysis to frame the increasingly important linguistic and social context of les cités or low-income housing projects that surround Paris. Based upon linguistic anthropological fieldwork completed over 18 initial months and 4 subsequent trips to Nanterre, France, this case study engages with practical examples of North African French teens’ everyday talk with peers. The communicative practices of adolescents of Arab heritage living in France convey with lively specificity how these young people negotiate larger dilemmas of gender and ethnicity. Through their ritualized, peer-based language innovation, Muslim teenagers in the French cités “talk back” to stigmatizing discourses and, by semiotically reframing such discourses, collectively build rich, morally structured, transcultural worlds.


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