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Social Anthropology

Some thoughts on minority nationalisms, from Corsica


In the first decade of this millenium, the French media frequently focused on the incidence of racism against Franco-Maghrebians in Corsica. On an island which has long been the locus of a minority nationalism organised on an anti-colonial frame of reference, this problematic challenges and unsettles fixed binaries of victim/perpetrator, powerful/powerless, majority/minority. While for some, this new development reveals the “underlying xenophobia” of Corsican nationalism, for others, this is just the latest episode in France’s age-old “defamatory misrepresentation” of the island. Debates implicitly circle around a thorny analytical and political question: should Corsican nationalism be set alongside anti-colonial resistance movements of the mid 20th century, or European neo-nationalisms of the early 21st ? Candea, M. 2006. 'Resisting victimhood in Corsica'. History and Anthropology, 17(4), 369-384.

Rather than attempt to adjudicate this debate, the paper unpicks its discursive regularities. At stake in these complex politics of victimhood are issues of the representative (what instances are typical?) and the commensurable (which comparisons are acceptable?) –both of which are central also to anthropological accounts of victimhood. As a result, this case study raises some issues concerning the ethics of making victimhood an ethnographic object. It also points to the increasingly 'minoritarian' rhetoric of european neo-nationalisms such as those of the Front National.

Read the published version of the article here.
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