History

A New Democratic (Dis)Order: Race, Identity, and Political Mobilisation in France and the UK, c.1970-Present

A British Academy-funded collaborative project that explores how identity politics has reshaped democracy in two distinct European societies.

Activist poster produced by a left-wing student organisation in France in the 1990s. The caption reads "I'm 18 years old, my name is Clovis. The history of France is mine, too".
Activist poster produced by a left-wing student organisation in France in the 1990s. The caption reads "I'm 18 years old, my name is Clovis. The history of France is mine, too". Credit: Génériques archives, 1164.

Identity has become one of the most powerful mobilising forces in contemporary democratic politics.

Since the 1970s, social movements based around race, gender, religion, language or sexuality have challenged traditional political structures and undermined the legitimacy of broad-based political parties. While some have argued that identity politics offers unique opportunities for citizens to participate in the democratic process, others have maintained that it damages the fabric of democratic politics by setting different groups against each other.

By stepping back from the polemic and seeking to historicise identity politics, this project provides the basis for a better understanding of the power of identity in contemporary European politics. It does so by looking at various forms of claims-making by racialised communities in France and the UK, including race-based mobilisation and the opposition to it. The aim is to explore how identity politics has reshaped democracy in two diverse European societies.

This project is funded under the British Academy's Knowledge Frontiers scheme. The principal investigator is Emile Chabal

FInd out more about the rationale and detailed aims of the project here.
Find out more about the project team here.
Find out more about our publications and work in progress here