N° 154 : Minorities, cities, globalizations




“Drums on the Walls”: Images of Montevideo’s African Descendants

by Ariela Epstein


Candombe is a rhythm, a dance and a parade, a practice invented by black slaves and taken up by their descendants in Montevideo. Earlier, Candombe was the only form of visibility of the Afro-Uruguayan minority but several processes, both institutional and popular, transform it today into a new reality. Different forms of wall art linked with Candombe emerged at the end of the 1990s (wall paintings, graffitis, and stencils) and we consider them as a means of exploration of the social and cultural place of the black community; this is a dynamic and complex issue. On the walls, the heterogeneous representation of Candombe culture, both legitimate and transgressive, maintains and transcends its ethnic origins. Walls are the space where a community shows both its struggle for recognition and its popular culture, belonging to everybody, what is today a specific feature of Montevideo.
Key-words: Montevideo, Candombe, Afro-descendants, wall painting, graffiti.



Montreal’s “Gay Village”. A Minority Urban Tale

by Colin Giraud


This paper is focused on the history of the gay neighborhood in Montreal, le Village, through the historical change of homosexual deviant identities from the 1980s to the 2000s. This research combines various data and shows how le Village was first used and seen as a refuge for gay people while the neighborhood was not as popular as it is now. During the 1990s, le Village changed a lot and became a specific resource for new gay generations. We emphasize the role of this place in the process of gay destigmatization, converting stigma into social and spatial resource.


Key-words: homosexuality, neighbourhood, minorities, Montreal, gentrification.



Towards a French Ethnoburb? Residential Patterns of Settlement of Foreign Minorities Becoming Homeowoners in the Parisian Metropolitan Region

by Didier Desponds and Pierre Bergel


The examination of societal transformations by focusing on national birth origins often creates trouble and anxiety in France and even when this unease is removed, the difficulty remains to get relevant data. This paper is based on the BiEN database, from the Parisian Notary Public Board. It provides a socio-geographical analysis of housing transactions by non-French purchasers in the Northern part of the Parisian metropole (Île-de-France). Is it possible to discern specific geographical distributions linked with foreign origins? Quantitative methods are used to identify social and spatial changes at different levels inside the area. Residential mobility is however the result of complex trends and to explain these qualitative approaches are required. This raises the question of the relevance of the concept of ethnoburb (Li Wei) within a French metropolitan context.


Key-words: residential mobility, spatial settling down, urban minorities, real estate acquisition, Île-de-France.



International Officers in Geneva: the Burden of Privilege

by Hossam Adly


In 1920, when the Society of Nations settled in Geneva, the image of its international officers was very positive. Today they are accused of being responsible for unaffordable housing in the city. Urban and economic town development went through a three-stage process resulting in the invention of “the international community” as a privileged urban minority. This population is heterogeneous in terms of nationality, gender, generation and/or position. How could it become a “community”? Symmetrically, how did international Officers come to consider themselves as a community based on their “common internationality”, making an “us” and “them” distinction with the “locals”? This ethnographic research within a UN Agency is a contribution to an urban anthropological approach to cosmopolitan urban minorities.


Key-words: urban minority, migrant elite, public policy, frontier, Geneva.



Migrants in Hanoi: the Political Construction of a Dominated Social Group

by Gwenn Pulliat


This paper analyses how the residential registration policy in Vietnam labels as “migrants” a varied “floating population” of migration practices of commuters between Hanoi and its hinterland. This registration policy establishes a differentiation in social rights which assigns to the floating population an inferior social position. It validates the “migrants” vs. “residents” relationship based on domination, and defines “migrants” as a dominated minority.


Key-words: Hanoi, residential registration, migration, floating population, social inequality.



Geopolitics and Metropolitanisation, the ‘Intermediary Minority’ Role of the Istanbul Jews

by Yoann Morvan


This article traces the residential and identity patterns and trajectories of the Jews of Istanbul in the Turkish megapolis and in the different diasporas following their successive migrations: Israel, France, Spain, the Americas both north and south. It is based on an ethnographic study of the community from April 2009 until November 2012. Using the concept of an ‘intermediary minority’, it analyses the evolution of the commercial role of the Jews in the metropolis in the era of globalisation. An economic anthropology of the minority is derived from an examination of the articulation between the community’s internal social structure, especially with regard to hierarchy and giving, and its external role. The concept of’’intermediary minority’ indirectly reveals the process of metroplitanisation in Istanbul.


Key-words : jewish diapora, Istanbul, intermediary minority, economic anthropology, trajectory.



Writing to Social Housing Authorities, Complaining to the State. Some Patterns of Protest in an Under-Priviledged Neighbourhood

by Emilia Schijman


Letters sent to social housing offices are often considered as an individual practice submitted within the constraints of bureaucratic imperatives. Nevertheless, they constitute the field of a very particular relation of forces. Beyond a simple lessor-tenant relation, these correspondences reveal an intense and close relationship with the State. Whether it is a right reclaimed, a breached clause in the framework of a contract or an illegal situation but considered legitimate, right is used time and time again to accede to a protection guaranteed by the State. Between moral ideas and legal categories, this local right drives the decisions of the administrators and impacts on the courts. This article is based mainly on the analysis of tenants’ files from a social housing neighborhood in the department of the Seine-Saint-Denis and of materials obtained during an enquiry from the social housing management operation.


Key-words: social housing, complaint, administrative files, local right, Paris suburbs.



Responses of Young Chinese to Urban Destruction in Canton

by Monique Selim


This article analyses the formation and development of a group of young Chinese triggered by the destruction of an old neighbourhood in Canton, capital of southern China. From an anthropological perspective the internal ambiguities and contradictions of this initiative, which had difficulties in formulating its objectives, are highlighted; in their thinking, the conservation of the structure was virtually unthinkable given its advanced state of degradation and where the inhabitants were reduced to behaving as marionnettes. The author illustrates the complexity of a scene at the heart of which are mixed the fear of confronting the ‘Party-State’ and the generalised hopes of social improvement by invoking memory and culture. The reflexion bears upon the emblematic character of this urban experience as tge emergence of an embryonic ‘civil society’ the fate of which remains uncertain given the reigning authoritarian political context.


Key-words: urban destruction, old neighbourhood, young people, China, globalisation, anthropology.



Innovative Milieux and Resource Implementation of New Highways

by Lamara Hadjou and Marie-Noëlle Duquenne


The aim of this paper is to propose a methodology for the diagnosis of highway effects on local development, based on an implicit territorial approach, placing the actor at the centre of the relationship. This approach takes care to attend directly to the strategies and expectations of local actors. In this context, the effects of highway infrastructure are examined using three central variables: first, the perception of actors, then, their ability to anticipate and finally their degree of organization and control of the work in terms of leading into further innovative initiatives. It is thus a real territorial diagnostic approach which is proposed, based on a systematic analysis of the involvement of actors, their actions and the support they receive from institutions.


Key-words: territorial approach, local development, diagnosis, highways, France/Greece comparison.