CONFERENCE LIVE BLOG « Attitudinal change towards Jews and Muslims in France in a comparative perspective »

18 avril 2013



Attitudinal change towards Jews and Muslims in France

in a comparative perspective


Nonna Mayer (Sciences Po, CEE, CNRS)

Vincent Tiberj (Sciences Po, CEE)

Tommaso Vitale (Sciences Po, CEE)

18-20 April 2013

 Sciences Po

The working language of the seminar will be English

Registration (compulsory) and contact:


This international conference is about the evolution and reconfiguration of prejudice towards minorities, more particularly Jews, Arabs and Muslims in contemporary France. It aims at bringing together scholars from different disciplines, with different perspectives, and bridging a gap between studies on Muslims and Islamophobia on the one side, and those on Jews and anti-Semitism on the other.

France is a particularly interesting case study because it hosts both the largest Jewish community in Europe and the largest Muslim community. The electoral rise of the National Front since the mid 80s has polarised the political debate around the issues of immigration and national identity. The questioning of the compatibility between Islam and Western values since 9/11 has changed the way political elites frame integration and multiculturalism and brought about a reconfiguration of prejudice in the French population. The international context, with the stalemate of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Arab revolutions, the terrorist attacks linked to Islamic networks, also feeds tensions between the host society and its minorities as well as between minorities. Anti-Semitic acts have been on the rise after the Merah massacre in Toulouse and anti-Arab racism is spreading.

The conference is part of an international comparative programme, launched in 2011 at the University of Haïfa (Israël) by two historians, Arieh Kochavi and Yael Granot-Bein, on the topic  “Muslims and Jews:  Citizenship, Identity and Prejudice in Europe, U.S. and Israel”. This programme presently brings together 5 Research Centres, which are, besides the French partner, the Centre d’études européennes  de Sciences Po, Paris (Nonna Mayer, Tommaso Vitale, Vincent Tiberj) : the Herzl Institute for the Research and Study of Zionism, University of Haifa (Arieh Kochavi and Yael Granot-Bein), the Comper Center for the Research of anti-Semitism and Racism (Eli Avraham), the Pears Institute for the Study of anti-Semitism, Birkbeck, University of London (David Feldman), the Center for Research on anti-Semitism, Technical University of Berlin (ZFA)  (Stefanie Schüler-Springorum). Besides two historians from Spain, involved in a European project on Secularity and religious Freedom, Rosa Maria Martinez de Codes (Complutense University of Madrid) and Jaime Contreras (Alcala University) have recently joined the network. The launching meeting took place in Haifa in May 2011. The first seminar was in London: focused on « Muslims and Jews: Citizenship, Identity and Prejudice in the British context » (February 2012). Now it is the turn for France to host the seminar, outline what makes its relation to the “other” similar and yet different from other European countries owing to its colonial history, the memories of World War Two and the Vichy government, the specific features of French Jews and Muslims, and also because of its institutions, with the weight of the universalistic and secular republican model.

The Paris conference will focus on the “new clothes” of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic prejudice, drawing from ethnographic qualitative field work as well as from quantitative studies such as the CNCDH –Commission nationale consultative des droits de l’homme – yearly survey on racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia, and the TEO (Trajectories and Origins) large scale survey launched by INED in 2009, focusing on the impact of origins on current living conditions and social trajectories. As the previous conference of the Haifa project, a session will be devoted to a dialogue between scholars and various actors mobilised in the fight against prejudice and the representation of minorities, in order to get a better understanding of prejudice, and of the best ways to fight it.

Open the provisional programme