Riots or revolts? The legacy of the 2005 uprising in French banlieue narratives

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The 2005 banlieue uprisings were the most important acts of contestation in France since May 1968, yet unlike the earlier student protests, they were largely interpreted as aimless violence rather than political dissent. While the authors of the upheavals remained silent, unable or unwilling to explain their motivations, social scientists and other commentators advanced the most divergent interpretations and made various claims on their behalf. This paper proposes to confront these readings with the analysis of three novels published in the wake of the 2005 riots by Mabrouck Rachedi, Wilfried N’Sondé and Rachid Santaki. Comparing these banlieue narratives with a range of scholarly readings proposed by sociologists will help us construct an alternative interpretative framework in which riots appear to be collective demands for justice, equality and social mobility. The conclusion will assess whether the riots are likely to leave a legacy comparable with May 1968.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-206
Number of pages14
JournalModern and Contemporary France
Issue number2
Early online date7 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • banlieue
  • police
  • justice
  • discrimination
  • narrative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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