colloque : « Crime, Ethnicity, and Migration, 1800-1980 »

Ce colloque britannico-franco-indien réunira historiens, sociologues, criminologues et politologues autour de la question des rapports entre criminalité, migrations et ethnicité. Il se tiendra les 8-10 juin prochain à la Maison des sciences de l’homme de Paris. Vous trouverez ci-dessous l’exposé des motifs et, en pièce jointe, le livret de présentation.

Exposé des motifs

The history of Europe, and its relationship with the wider world, is one of population movement, immigration and emigration. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jewish immigration into Europe as a result of Russian, and later Nazi, anti-Semitism grew distinct communities in many European cities, and the Irish diaspora contributed to the development of American society. During the 19th century immigrants came to France primarily from bordering countries and in the 20th, from more distant, albeit still European areas (central Europe, Russia, Greece, Portugal).

As immigrants were caught in the `social nets’ of opportunity (prospering cities towns) in the nineteenth-century, national and cultural distinctiveness adapted to new situations and the cultural impact lessened (although some communities have remained distinctive – the « Chinatowns » in London, Liverpool, Manchester, for example). In the mid to late twentieth century, people from former colonies have moved from Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Asia to France, the Netherlands, and Britain. At the same time Germany was host to tens of thousands of ‘guest workers’ and, since the fall of the Soviet empire, the eastern borders of the EU have appeared ever more porous. The nations from which people emigrated in the past are now also becoming countries of immigration (Italy, Spain, Greece and, to a lesser extent, Scandinavia).

Whilst the integration of new settlers has been uneven, and some European nations have adapted with more ease than others (Levy and Zauberman 2003; Lequin 1992; Noirel 1988 and 1991; Blanc-Chaleard 2001), the flow of people around the globe has not been unproblematic, and one could argue that, in the twenty-first century, immigration and the integration of minority ethnic/religious groups is setting the political agendas of all European nations.

This proposal is drafted with the belief that there is now an international debate about the migration of people and the criminalization of refugee/economic migrants in `host’ societies. We believe that this dialogue lacks a historical dimension which can contextualize modern debates. The movement of large groups of people, through processes of colonialization, through political oppression, or to gain economic advantage, has continued since the eighteenth-century, and modern debates must address the historical legacies that have shaped post-colonial realities. It will focus primarily, but will also include at least two speakers who research nineteenth- and twentieth-century immigrant communities in Australia (Hammerton) and New Zealand (Dunstall).

Secondly, despite ethnicity being a separate cultural and social `quality’, the links between immigrant status, ethnicity, and crime are embedded in the media and in the public imagination. Newspaper reports in particular make little distinction between the economic migrant, the asylum seeker, and locally-born sons of immigrants. These three topics therefore need to be linked and studied collectively. This conference and subsequent collection of conference papers will attempt to do this under three thematic headings.

National identities and racial stereotypes –

Fear of crime and perceptions of law and order problems often relate to `outsider’ anxieties – often in conjunction with high levels of unemployment, declining social infrastructures, and so on (Girling et al, 2000; Taylor and Fraser 1998). Papers in this theme will address the transmission, re-interpretation and modification of national or racial stereotypes on the part of the media and by immigrant communities themselves. This theme will describe the process of `othering’ immigrants in the media, and how ascribed racial or national characteristics were projected in public discourse (and, conversely, how locally born `undesirables’ were ascribed the attributes of immigrants in the late nineteenth century (Pick, 1989: 218) and beyond.). Consideration will be given to the `moment’ of immigration and the prevailing political climate (see papers in collection edited by Panayi, 1993). It will also consider the re-negotiation or reinterpretation of existing stereotypes by immigrants themselves, in order to challenge or resist negative stereotypes. Lastly, it will explore how religion has come to define immigrant and ethnic groups, for example Jews in the mid twentieth century, and Muslims in the 21st century.

Dislocation and integration –

Immigrants experience sometimes welcome and sometimes unwanted processes of dislocation (from family and friends left behind; and from normative cultural practices). As time progresses and to varying degrees processes of integration occur (making friends, education, employment, and so on). These `protective’ factors assist immigrants to establish themselves and their families within new communities. At an individual level, these factors are also known to inhibit criminogenic influences. This theme will discuss how effective these situational inhibitors were (at individual and societal level) in various geographical locations, and how changed economic conditions and cultural expectations affect second- third generation settlers. This theme will also explore how demographic changes, ie. the falling birth rates in some `developed’ nations, is provoking a political reassessment of immigration as a tool for the maintenance of social welfare provision (ie the `pensions crisis’). It will discuss what implications this has for notions of citizenship and inclusion in the twenty-first century (Brubaker 1992).

Minority groups and legal processes –

`From the 16th century onwards black people have been inextricably woven into the structure of British society, both as free and slave’ (Myers, 1992: 138). Myers has shown, through tracing black people through criminal records in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, that there has long been an over-representation of minority groups in English prisons. Notoriously, Irish prisoners outnumbered English ones by eight to one in the Victorian period (Swift). In modern times, black people across Europe are disproportionately represented in arrest figures, prison populations, and as victims of crime. The relationship between criminal justice agencies and minority groups is therefore crucial (Whitfield 2004; Blanc-Chaléard 2001). Papers in this theme will explore the relationship between authority and new settlers; and ask whether primary immigrants, or their offspring, are more exposed to victimization, and over-policing. It will go on to explore the attempts the police and police authorities have made to reform policing, to what extent the introduction of training on diversity, human rights, and equable policing have had since the 1950s.


Blanc-Chaléard et al (eds.), Police et migrants, France 1667-1939, Presses de l’Université de Rennes, 2001
Blanc-Chaléard M.-C., Histoire de l’immigration, Paris, La Découverte, 2001.
Brubaker, R., Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1992
Docker, J and Fischer, G. Race, Colour and Identity, Sydney, 2000
Fryer, P. Staying Power. The History of Black People in Britain, London, 1984
Girling, E., Loader, I. and Sparks, R. Crime and Social Change in Middle England: Questions of Order in an English Town, London, 2000
Holmes, C. (ed) Immigrants and Minorities in British Society, London, 1978
Holmes, C. John Bull’s Island. Immigration and British Society, 1871-1971, London, 1988
Lequin Y. (ed.), Histoire des étrangers et de l’immigration en France, Larousse, 1992 Levy R. and Zauberman R. Police, minorities and the French republican Ideal, Criminology, 2003, 41, 4, pp.1065-1100.
Myers, N. Reconstructing the Black Past. Blacks in Britain 1780-1830, London, 1996
O’Sullivan, P. The Irish in the New Communities, Leicester, 1992
Noiriel G. Le Creuset Français, histoire de l’immigration, Paris, Seuil, 1988
Noiriel G. Réfugiés et sans-papiers, La république face au droit d’asile 19e-20e s., Hachette/Pluriel, 1991
Panayi, P. Racial Violence in Britain in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, Leicester, 1993
Pick, D. Faces of degeneration. A European disorder c.1848-1918, CUP, 1989
Swift, R. ` »Heroes or Villains »? The Irish, crime and disorder in Victorian England’, Albion, 29, 1997
Taylor, I. and Fraser, P. Tale of Two Cities, Manchester 1998

Fichier attaché : livret_colloque_iahccj-gern_8-10_juin_2006.pdf

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