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French attitudes to race and homosexuality tackled in new book

Maxime Cervulle and Nick Rees-Roberts, authors of Homo Exoticus

Maxime Cervulle and Nick Rees-Roberts, authors of Homo Exoticus

Press release issued: 9 November 2010

France’s historically difficult relationship with issues of immigration, class and sexuality is viewed through the lens of contemporary film in a new book that takes a fresh look at the country’s socio-political development.

‘Homo exoticus: race, classe et critique queer’, is the first academic publication in French to combine queer theory with postcolonial commentary to provide an engaging account of contemporary politics and visual representation in France.

The book, published by Armand Colin, has already attracted the attention of the French press, with reviews in Le Monde and an interview with co-author Dr Nick Rees-Roberts from the University of Bristol in the French daily newspaper Libération.

Combining scholarly essays with a more traditional academic film analysis, ‘Homo exoticus’ tackles a number of thorny and embarrassing issues regarding socio-economic power in France.

“We situate ‘Homo exoticus’ as a part of a critical response to the Sarkozy government’s open hostility towards immigrants, and to broader postcolonial uncertainties as to any one collective understanding of French national identity,” says Dr Rees-Roberts, lecturer in film and cultural studies at the University of Bristol’s French department.

The book highlights institutionalisation of mainstream gay culture in France through an extended critique of the liberal equal rights agenda, which the authors note focuses predominantly on the issue of gay marriage.

Drawing on examples that illustrate their thesis on the limits of “eurocentrism” for queer culture, the remainder of the book questions the progressive nature of gay marriage, before moving on to questions of visual representation, such as the predilection for the Arab boy in queer cinematic production.

“Such images portray a society unsure of the relevance of its founding myths of universalism, secularism and Republicanism in an age of mass-migration,” adds Dr Rees-Roberts.  “The book ends with the example of homophobia (or rather the political manipulation of homophobia) to illustrate how sexual emancipation has become a prime indicator of political modernity in France.”

Further information

*’Homo exoticus: race, classe et critique queer’, by Nick Rees-Roberts and Maxime Cervulle and Nick Rees-Roberts, is published by Armand Colin, Paris, 2010.
Please contact Aliya Mughal for further information.
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