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Rapping French cities in the 1990s: blurring Marseille and brightening Paris in contested processes of boundary making

Downing, Joseph (2020) Rapping French cities in the 1990s: blurring Marseille and brightening Paris in contested processes of boundary making. French Politics, Culture and Society, 38 (3). pp. 136-154. ISSN 1537-6370

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Identification Number: 10.3167/FPCS.2020.380307

Abstract

The scholarship on French rap has thus far paid too little attention to social boundary making. This is important given the long-standing sociological importance of territorial boundaries in creating and reenforcing marginalization, especially for ethnic and racial minorities, in French cities. This article highlights the process of boundary making by presenting an analysis of 364 rap tracks from the 1990s. The results demonstrate stark contrasts: 94 percent of Marseille rappers depict boundaries at the city level, while 68 percent of Paris rappers use districts (arrondissements and suburban départements) as the key signifiers of boundary making. Paris rap follows an established pattern of brightening existing socioeconomic and territorial boundaries through lyrics that focus on alienation and marginalization. Rap from Marseille follows a countervailing logic of blurring socioeconomic and territorial boundaries through lyrics that strive to capture a lived, inclusive multiculturalism in the city.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2020. The Institute of French Studies at New York University. All Rights Reserved.
Divisions: European Institute
Date Deposited: 24 May 2022 15:48
Last Modified: 24 May 2022 15:48
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/115194

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