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Contesting CitizenshipIrregular Migrants and New Frontiers of the Political$
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Anne McNevin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231151283

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231151283.001.0001

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Acts of Contestation

Acts of Contestation

The Sans-Papiers of France

(p.93) 4 Acts of Contestation
Contesting Citizenship

Anne McNevin

Columbia University Press

On March 18, 1996, some 324 irregular migrants occupied the Church of Saint-Ambroise in Paris, calling themselves the Sans-Papiers (literally “Without Papers”). Some of the Sans-Papiers were asylum seekers, and some were long-term working residents of France whose status had been made irregular as a result of recent legislative changes. The Sans-Papiers demanded the right to stay in France with regularized status. They rejected the illegality with which they had been charged and insisted on the legitimacy of their presence. This chapter attempts to understand the kinds of contestations of citizenship in which the Sans-Papiers are engaged and considers what this engagement means for political belonging more generally. What can we learn from the Sans-Papiers about dynamics of citizenship under conditions of neoliberal globalization? How might their political claims challenge the temporal and spatial limits of citizenship as we know it? Before a detailed discussion of the terms in which the Sans-Papiers have staked their claims, the chapter begins by outlining a conceptual approach to acts of contestation. This approach provides some starting points from which to assess the Sans-Papiers' struggle.

Keywords:   France, immigration policy, Sans-Papiers, irregular migrants, citizenship, neoliberal globalization

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