Next month we will be crystallizing what it means to be French?

In France, coffee culture runs deep. Once a month we meet to get to know each other. ‘What it means to be French has been a looming preocupation among the country’s philosophical and political elite, one that can certainly be traced to the devastating Algerian War of Independance from France (1954 – 62). There was a great migration of Algerian families (though that was not the first; it began in the run-up to World War I) and a feeling, stil experienced today by second- and third-generation Algerians born in France, that they are outsiders. But it wasn’t until the 1980s when, in response to both the antiracism movement and the emergence of the far right as many decades of North African immigration became more visible in the public sphere, a panel of philosophers and historians, which included Marceau Long and Dominique Schnapper, developed an understanding of national identity. While the historical tradition of republicanism often emphasized the importance of civic engagement, this panel crystallized the specific historical and cultural dynamics of French citizenship. Since, the understanding has been that to be French connotes civic duty more than ethnicity.’ Lindsay Tramuta