Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Les Yeux on France: Why Marseille is Different

Les Yeux on France: Why Marseille is Different

Echos of the November 2005 riots. This picture was taken in Marseille’s 13th arrondissement, not far from the spot where adolescents attacked bus 32 a week ago.

Photos and Column byYasmine Ryan

Scoop Audio. Scoop Audio: Click here to listen to this edition of Les Yeux on France


*******

A Molotov cocktail attack on bus 32 in Marseille’s 13th arrondissement on 28 October marked the anniversary of the beginning of the 2005 riot, during which marginalised youths vented their anger at the French state. The attack left a 26 year old student, Mama Galledou, in a critical condition, with burns on 62% of her skin. It occurred in the context of similar attacks on public transport and conflict with police in other parts of France. However, such acts of delinquency against the state in the Mediterranean port town of Marseille are not the norm. Les Yeux on France looks this week at what makes this city the exception in France.

(AIX-EN-PROVENCE – 7 November 2006) – A teenager on Liberation Boulevard wears a black t-shirt. The white lettering of ‘Paris’ is crossed out, replaced by red graffiti-like scrawl which reads ‘Marseille’. The port town, France’s second or third biggest city, depending on which classification you follow, is accustomed to being denigrated as France’s crime capital. Its inhabitants have a distinct identity and an equally strong accent. French here is influenced by the Provençal dialect and splattered with Corsican, Italian and Arabic words and expressions.

An ongoing programme to bring out the best in downtown Marseille, begun in the 1990s, has led to an increase in tourists. The old port is a central attraction.

Its position as a major Mediterranean port has played a profound role in the evolution of the metropolis. This strategic importance was first utilised by the Ancient Greeks, who founded France’s first town here in 600 B.C. Ever since, Marseille has been a regional focal point for commercial enterprise.

Hundreds of thousands of ex-colonialists were repatriated here from Algeria in 1962. Equally, the city has long been the entry point for immigration from throughout the Mediterranean, and is characterised by the presence of many different peoples, notably from France’s former North African colonies, as well as from Corsica and Italy.

Buskers in downtown Marseille.

Far more cosmopolitan than Paris, Marseille was largely spared from outbreaks of violence during the November 2005 riots which spread like wildfire throughout almost every other urban centre in France with significant ghettos. Marseille was thus the exception, despite having an elevated unemployment rate (13%), a high proportion of ethnic minorities and a significant number of the 1960s housing estates (HLM) typically associated with ghettoisation. While poverty and crime are certainly pressing issues, a sense of being shunned by the state does not appear to be as strong here compared to that which exists in other urban centres across the nation.

Low-income housing, known as ’HLM’, in Marseille’s 13th arrondissement.

Thus it seems that Marseillais immigrants and the children of immigrants feel generally happier with their lot than counterparts in other parts of France. They are generally more visible and integrated, and, according to some commentators, have been the benefactors of far more positive and proactive public initiatives. While the domineering HLM buildings proliferate, particularly to the north of the city centre, there is a sense that it is diversity which is the essence of Marseille’s identity. Rather than being segregated and made invisible, Marseille’s many ‘minorities’ have a sense of belonging; of being integral to the city’s vibrant culture.

******

Yasmine Ryan is a graduate of the University of Auckland, in Political Studies and French language. She is currently completing a Masters degree in International Journalism at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Aix-en-Provence.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news