Combined Academic Publishers

Advanced Search

Sexagon

9780823274604: Hardback
Release Date: 2nd January 2017

9780823274611: Paperback
Release Date: 2nd January 2017

9780823274635: PDF
Release Date: 2nd January 2017

Dimensions: 153 x 229

Number of Pages: 344

Fordham University Press

Sexagon

Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture

Sexagon examines how Muslim immigrants from North Africa—as well as their French descendants—have had their level of assimilation to French Culture evaluated according to their attitudes about gender and sexuality. Mack contends that French Arab and Muslim minorities have had their French-ness rejected not because of any linguistic or civic barrier, but rather due to their perceived inadequacy at the level of sexual liberation.

Hardback / £83.00
Paperback / £21.99
PDF / £19.99

In contemporary France, particularly in the banlieues of Paris, the figure of the young, virile, hypermasculine Muslim looms large. So large, in fact, it often supersedes liberal secular society’s understanding of gender and sexuality altogether. Engaging the nexus of race, gender, nation, and sexuality, Sexagon studies the broad politicization of Franco-Arab identity in the context of French culture and its assumptions about appropriate modes of sexual and gender expression, both gay and straight.

Surveying representations of young Muslim men and women in literature, film, popular journalism, television, and erotica as well as in psychoanalysis, ethnography, and gay and lesbian activist rhetoric, Mehammed Amadeus Mack reveals the myriad ways in which communities of immigrant origin are continually and consistently scapegoated as already and always outside the boundary of French citizenship regardless of where the individuals within these communities were born. At the same time, through deft readings of—among other things—fashion photography and online hook-up sites, Mack shows how Franco-Arab youth culture is commodified and fetishized to the point of sexual fantasy.

Official French culture, as Mack suggests, has judged the integration of Muslim immigrants from North and West Africa—as well as their French descendants—according to their presumed attitudes about gender and sexuality. More precisely, Mack argues, the frustrations consistently expressed by the French establishment in the face of the alleged Muslim refusal to assimilate is not only symptomatic of anxieties regarding changes to a “familiar” France but also indicative of an unacknowledged preoccupation with what Mack identifies as the “virility cultures” of Franco-Arabs, rendering Muslim youth as both sexualized objects and unruly subjects.

The perceived volatility of this banlieue virility serves to animate French characterizations of the “difficult” black, Arab, and Muslim boy—and girl—across a variety of sensational newscasts and entertainment media, which are crucially inflamed by the clandestine nature of the banlieues themselves and non-European expressions of virility. Mirroring the secret and underground qualities of “illegal” immigration, Mack shows, Franco-Arab youth increasingly choose to withdraw from official scrutiny of the French Republic and to thwart its desires for universalism and transparency. For their impenetrability, these sealed-off domains of banlieue virility are deemed all the more threatening to the surveillance of mainstream French society and the state apparatus.

Introduction: Enter the Sexagon
Manipulations of Gay-Friendliness
Vocabularies of Race and Desire
The Sexualization of Ethnicity, Now and Then
Not Queer Enough
Sexual Nationalism and the Rape of Europa
The Banlieue as Laboratory
An Eventful Home Life
Exposing the Arab
The Sexagon

Chapter One: The Banlieue has a Gender: Competing Visions of Sexual Diversity
Banlieue Girl Gangs and Muslima soldiers
Ethnographic Obfuscation in the Homo-ghetto
Capitalizing on Banlieusard Homosexualities
The Banlieue as Maker, Not Cracked Mirror, of the Queer

Chapter Two: Constructing the Broken Family: The Draw for Psychoanalysis
The Juvenile Delinquent
Mother Enablers of a Male Islam
“Be Careful What You Wish For”
Historical Echoes of the Colonial Delinquent
The Veiled Woman
The Veil, the Clandestine, and the Public/Private Distinction
The Impotent Father
Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Community Attachment

Chapter Three: Uncultured yet Seductive: The Trope of the Difficult Arab Boy
Sexuality, Ethnography, and Literature
Sexual Informants of Bad News
The Guardians of French Letters
Looking Hard
The Rehabilitation of Ethnic Virility
Atonement for Cross-Cultural Injury
The Arab Boy’s Post-colonial Revenge

Chapter Four: Sexual Undergrounds: Cinema, Performance, and Ethnic Surveillance
Exposing the Clandestine, Intimately
Homosexualization and Acceptance
Rehabilitating Virility
The Sexualization of Authority
Big Brother is Watching You
Interpenetration of Communities
Sex Work, Immigrant Work, Travail d’Arabe
Image Control

Chapter Five: Erotic Solutions for Ethnic Tension: Fantasy, Reality, Pornography
Exploiting Exploitation
Stereotypes and Victimology
François Sagat, aka, “Azzedine”
The banlieue’s Erotic Premises
From beur to beurette, a Political Loss
Domestic-Exotic Men

Conclusion: The Sexagon’s Border Crisis

Acknowledgments

Notes

Index

Mehammed Amadeus Mack is Assistant Professor of French Studies and Program Committee Member in the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College.

"In France today, sex is a matter of national identity: it provides a language to speak about those whose Frenchness is deemed problematic. Indeed, the gender and sexuality of these racialized 'Others'are the object of a proliferation of discourses. Mehammed Mack’s original, rich, and precise contribution to a growing field of studies focuses on the multiplicity of cultural representations that both reflect and produce postcolonial France as a kaleidoscope of sexual obsessions – a 'sexagon.'"

—Éric Fassin
Paris-8 University Vincennes—Saint-Denis