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Géopolitiques (euro)-méditerranéennes

Making “Mediterranean Migrants”: Geopolitical Transitions, Migratory Policy, and French Conceptions of the Mediterranean in the 20th Century

Michael A. Kozakowski
p. 181-193

Résumés

Malgré le fait que la plupart des migrants en France au mitan du xxe siècle soient issus des pays de la Méditerranée occidentale, la relation entre les conceptions des immigrés et les conceptions de la Méditerranée reste peu connue. Cet article analyse à la fois comment les débats sur la politique migratoire française sont marqués par les discours sur la Méditerranée et ses habitants, ainsi que la façon dont ces débats révélèrent l’évolution des idées sur « la Méditerranée » comme frontière de « l’Europe ». A cette fin, l’article examine quatre périodes de recompositions géopolitiques où les circuits et les politiques migratoires furent révisés : à l’issue de la première guerre mondiale, à la suite de la seconde guerre mondiale, dans les années 1950 et 1960 avec la décolonisation et l’intégration européenne, et enfin, au milieu des crises économiques et de l’élargissement du Marché Commun et l’Union européenne depuis les années 1970. Au cours du xxe siècle, le concept de « l’immigré méditerranéen », ainsi que celui de « la Méditerranée » elle-même, se référèrent de plus en plus aux personnes provenant de la rive sud de la Méditerranée, plutôt qu’à ceux de l’Europe méridionale. Ce changement, dans le contexte d’une Europe de plus en plus unie, entraîne plusieurs conséquences sur les possibilités d’inclusion des migrants dans l’État-nation et l’Union européenne.

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Texte intégral

  • 1  Ambroise Got, “L’assimilation des étrangers”, Mercure de France, vol. 158, nº 580, 15 August 1922, (...)

1In a series of articles in the 1920s that were read and widely discussed in France and abroad, the journalist Ambroise Got argued that the migration and naturalization of some groups were advantageous to the nation and that others were harmful. He singled out Polish Jews for their supposed undesirability and nonassimilability. In contrast, he claimed that Italian and Spanish migrants would merge with and strengthen the French nation. This was analogous to the unification of different French regions or the somewhat mythical mixing of Gauls, Romans, and Franks in previous centuries. Yet the greatest and most concrete proof for Got was in Algeria. There, in the face of a hostile climate and an indigenous majority, French, Italian, and Spanish settlers had fused together, giving rise to a “Mediterranean race.” “We have succeeded in unifying the European population of Algeria,” he proclaimed, “to melt it down in the same mold whence now arises a new Mediterranean race…” This Mediterranean race of migrants, he further asserted, had proven itself intensely loyal to the French nation during the recent conflict.1

  • 2  Neil MacMaster, Colonial migrants and racism, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1997, p. 59.
  • 3  Service National des Statistiques, Mouvements migratoires entre la France et l’étranger, Etude dém (...)

2World War I had unleashed several processes that remade the Mediterranean region and revealed to contemporary observers like Got the dynamics of political and demographic relations. The Mediterranean had been a site of Great Power tensions leading up to the conflict (e.g., in both the Ottoman Empire and Morocco), an active theater of combat (e.g., the Gallipoli Campaign), and of post-war colonial spoils in the form of mandates awarded to France and Britain in Palestine, Syria, and Iraq. Most relevantly, the war had led to widespread mobilization and migration in the Mediterranean, not least in France. The war mobilized hundreds of thousands of colonial soldiers, including 170,000 Algerians.2 In metropolitan France, they were joined by thousands of other colonial subjects, Chinese, and Spaniards who took up work in armaments factories or replaced farmers who went to the front. Migration continued after the fighting ceased, as Italians, Spaniards, and Algerians –and to a lesser extent Czechs, Poles, and members of other nationalities– made whole some of France’s economic and demographic losses. As Got’s essays demonstrate, this migratory boom –which saw nearly 2.3 million foreigners legally enter France between 1921 and 1939 3– set off debates not just about the economic and military benefits of migration or naturalization, but about how to understand French and migrants’ identities.

  • 4  Census data tabulated in Philippe Dewitte, Deux siècles d’immigration en France, Paris, Documentat (...)
  • 5  A key text making such a connection in a Spanish context in the 1980s and 1990s is Liliana Suárez (...)
  • 6  On migrants and the French nation-state, see for example, Elisa Camiscioli, Reproducing the French (...)

3The Mediterranean Basin was the largest source of migrants to France when Got was writing and remained so for most of the 20th century. Spaniards, Italians, and Algerians, alone, constituted at least 40% of the foreign population in France on every census between 1901 and 1982, and often substantially more.4 It was no coincidence that commentators like Got articulated ideas about migrants in terms of the Mediterranean, a region of increasing intellectual, imperial, and economic interest since the late 18th century. Even today, representations of migrants in France and elsewhere in Western Europe are closely bound up with conceptions of the Mediterranean as a frontier region. These conceptions are reproduced and disseminated through images of capsized boats carrying would-be migrants across the Mediterranean to Lampedusa, Andalusia, and other entry points to the European Union. However, it is hitherto unclear in the scholarly literature how French discourses about the Mediterranean relate to discourses about migrants.5 Whereas the latter are frequently examined to reveal conceptions of the French nation-state and French identity, “Mediterranean” discourses are often examined from the perspective of intellectual history, as scholars trace how the Mediterranean came to be a unit of study for statesmen, policymakers, and scholars like Fernand Braudel.6

  • 7  Marie-Noëlle Bourguet et al., L’Invention scientifique de la Méditerranée: égypte, Morée, Algérie, (...)
  • 8  Jerry Bentley, “Seas and ocean basins as frameworks of historical analysis”, Geographical review, (...)

4This article analyzes both how French debates about migrants drew on discourses of “the Mediterranean,” and how migratory patterns and debates reveal changing conceptions of “the Mediterranean” itself. In so doing, it also reveals the frontiers of “Europe,” as notions of the Mediterranean were a construct of European persons at a time of imperial expansion, thinking explicitly about Europe’s geography, sub-climates, fauna and flora, races, and political relations vis-à-vis other world regions.7 In understanding these interconnected discourses of migrants, the Mediterranean, and Europe, it is helpful to think of spaces like the Mediterranean as social constructs whose boundaries changed over time, rather than predetermined, neutral spaces. They were defined not just by physical geography, but by sustained political, economic, social, and economic exchanges; the articulation of identities; and at times, juridical or administrative bodies.8

5In order to see how these geographies, interactions, and conceptions of migrants and the Mediterranean have changed over time, this article analyzes geopolitical transitions in the 20th century. Like World War I, these were upheavals that remade –and thus reveal– political, economic, and social relations in the Mediterranean. Looking back on the 20th century, it is possible to identify several major shifts in French migratory policy and discourses linked to geopolitical events, including World War I and the convergent rise of fascism, anti-colonialism, and World War II in the first half of the 20th century. Decolonization and European integration occurred roughly simultaneously in the 1950s and 1960s. Then beginning in 1973, the European Economic Community (EEC), predecessor to the European Union, was enlarged for the first time, sparking a new approach to European-Mediterranean relations at the same time as the First Oil Crisis signaled the beginning of a sustained economic downturn.

Colonial Myths and Post-World War I Migration Policy

  • 9  Philippe Dewitte, Deux siècles…, op. cit., p. 75.
  • 10  Neil MacMaster, Colonial migrants…, op. cit., p. 52 and p. 223.

6World War I and postwar reconstruction led to unprecedented numbers of migrants in France. The official Italian population in the country increased by more than 300,000 between 1911 and 1926 to 760,000; the Spanish population trebled to 320,000.9 Whereas the Algerian community numbered perhaps 4,000 in all of metropolitan France in 1910, some 70,000 migrants made the journey across the Mediterranean in 1924, alone.10 Yet these migrant groups were conceptualized very differently.

  • 11  Ibid., p. 41.

7Most Algerian migrants in France after World War I were indigenous Muslims who spoke Berber, particularly from the Kabyle Mountains of northeastern Algeria. Because Algeria was technically an extension of French territory, they were French nationals. However, they were denied the right to vote and in Algeria were governed by a distinct legal system of local, or “Muslim law,” rather than the common, or civil law that governed the European settlers and the majority of indigenous Algerian Jews. Kabyles may have benefited from slightly more favorable stereotypes towards them than towards Arabs.11 However, there was no legal preference in France during the 1920s for either hiring Kabyle over Arab migrants or Algerian migrants (who were, after all French nationals) over foreign migrants.

  • 12  Paul Silverstein, “Immigrant racialization and the new savage slot: race, migration, and immigrati (...)
  • 13  Archives d’histoire contemporaine (Sciences Po), JU14, Haut Comité Méditerranéen et de l’Afrique d (...)

8In metropolitan France, administrators and employers often characterized Algerian migrants as “unstable” and “nomadic.” Nomadism, a trait most closely associated with Arabs, but occasionally with Berbers as well, was a long-standing trope in colonial studies. The distinction between nomadism and sedentary civilisation featured in de Tocqueville’s accounts of Algeria in the mid-19th century and gained academic acceptance at the turn of the century among the followers of the geographer, Paul Vidal de la Blache (1845-1918), who contrasted nomadic and sedentary genres de vie (lifeways).12 The supposed “instability” of Algerian and North African migrants was to be a recurring refrain throughout the mid-20th century, and was said to include higher absenteeism on the job, a propensity to change jobs, and frequent changes of residence. In short, Algerian migrants were reputed to be poor workers and in need of close “supervision.”13

  • 14  Käthe Panick, La Race latine: politischer Romanismus im Frankreich des 19. Jahrhunderts, Bonn, Röh (...)

9These unfavorable stereotypes of indigenous Muslims in colonial Algeria, transferred to Algerian migrants in metropolitan France, contrasted with stereotypes of “Latin” migrants from Southern Europe. Discourses of “Latinity” (Latinité) had been prominent in the mid-19th century under Napoleon III, who sought to capture the glory of the Roman Empire, improve relations with the Roman Catholic Church, and increase France’s influence in “Latin America.” After France’s defeat to Prussia during the war of 1870-1871, these discourses largely fell out of favor.14 However, they flourished in regional contexts, such as in the work of poet Frédéric Mistral in Provence, as well as in Algeria.

  • 15  David Prochaska, Making Algeria French: colonialism in Bône, 1870-1920, Cambridge, Cambridge Unive (...)
  • 16  Patricia Lorcin, Imperial identities: stereotyping, prejudice, and race in colonial Algeria, Londo (...)

10About half of European migrants in Algeria were from France, with the rest hailing from Spain, Italy, Malta, and a handful of other countries. Street names, cultural associations, a distinct regional French accent and slang, shared experiences in the army (particularly during World War I), and shared housing and employment all helped create a sense of a shared “Latin” culture among French, Spanish, and Italian migrants.15 Furthermore in elevating a Christian-Roman past, relatively recent European migrants could preempt the claims of Arab Muslims, who could be dismissed as outside “invaders” who first came in the 7th century. Archaeologists and tour companies promoted Roman ruins in places like Djemila and Timgad, while the bishop of Algiers, Charles Martial Lavigerie (1825-1892) promoted knowledge of early Christianity in Algeria. “Algerianist” writers, such as Louis Bertrand (1866-1941), later elected to the Académie Française, celebrated the supposed fusion of “Latin” migrants living in Algeria. He argued that these “Latins” had the ability to reinvigorate France due to their alleged virility and rebarbarisation living adjacent to indigenous Arabs.16

  • 17  Elisa Camiscioli, Reproducing the French Race…, op. cit.; Pierre-André Taguieff, “Face à l’immigra (...)
  • 18  Calculated from the data in Javier Rubio, La emigración española a Francia, Espulgas de Llobregat, (...)

11These stereotypes of “Latin migrants” were re-imported to metropolitan France after World War I. “Latin” discourses had been revived in wartime propaganda to contrast Franco-Italian partnership and civilisation against “Germanic barbarism.” After the conflict, this language of Latinity and the example of migrants in Algeria provided key means for debating migration in France. While not all French commentators were in favor of migration, those in favor tended to prefer “Latin” Spanish and Italian migrants as most easy to assimilate. Even those who ranked “Germanic” nationalities more highly were concerned that racial and class “superiors” were being sedentarized, corrupted by “civilization,” and “selfishly” using birth control. In contrast, migrants from Italy and Spain exhibited higher birth rates. These higher birth rates were attributed not to Catholicism, as many migrants were not active practitioners, but to a supposed physical virility or even “uncouthness” that would invigorate the French nation.17 The 1927 naturalization reforms that resulted from these debates considerably eased the terms of naturalization, but permitted local officials considerable discretion to decide whether the candidate would contribute to the national community. Given favorable stereotypes and large numbers of migrants, two-thirds of naturalized adults from 1927 through 1939 were Spaniards and Italians.18

12During the 1920s and 1930s, these discourses about Spaniards and Italians as “Latin” migrants increasingly merged with or were supplanted by discourses of “Mediterranean” migrants, as academics and policy makers sought to use more “scientific,” rather than “cultural,” racial markers. While some scholars have detected evidence of thinking about a race méditerranéenne as early as the mid-1830s, the term did not gain much traction until the last quarter of the century. In the late 19th century and early 20th century however, anthropologists actively sought out more physical groundings for their discipline, based on the natural world and incorporating methodologies like anthropometry, cranial morphology, and psychology, rather than an older, more humanistic traditions of race explored through history, culture, and linguistics. Hence cultural, historical, and linguistic names of supposed races like “Latin,” “Celtic,” and “Aryan/Germanic” were often replaced by geographic names, such as “Mediterranean,” “Alpine,” and “Nordic.”

  • 19  Sarah Al-Matary, “L’homme méditerranéen de Paul Adam: une révision des types forgés par l’anthropo (...)

13Anthropologists, geographers, and demographers had mixed feelings about the so-called “Mediterranean race.” For some French anthropologists, like the notorious Joseph Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882) or the Berber expert Lucien Bertholon (1854-1914), the Mediterranean represented a mixing of persons or perhaps a mixed race with notions of “degeneracy.” For Joseph Deniker (1852-1918), held in greater esteem by the French establishment, the “Atlanto-Mediterranean” (or “Littoral”) race was one of six main European races. Inspired by the German, Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919), Georges Vacher de Lapouge (1854-1936) added a third category of a Homo mediterraneus in 1889 to Linnaeus’s classic division of European peoples into blond, dolicocephalic Homo europaeus (“Aryans” in Lapouge’s terminology) and brown-haired brachycephalic Homo alpinus. While Lapouge saw “Mediterraneans” as inferior to “Aryans,” one of the founders of Italian anthropology, Giuseppe Sergi, saw the “Mediterranean race” as the bedrock of European civilization. He also took the unusual step of ascribing membership in the “Mediterranean race” to both southern Europeans and some Africans. However, this move was disowned by his ideological successors like Nicola Pende and Giacamo Acerbo. For most academics in France and abroad in the early 20th century, “Mediterranean” referred to Southern Europeans within a taxonomy (and hierarchy) of European races.19

  • 20  Jonathan Spiro, Defending the master race: conservation, eugenics, and the legacy of Madison Grant(...)
  • 21  Archives nationales, Paris, CARAN, AP/577/5 Fonds Mauco, Draft of article entitled, “Géographie et (...)

14These theories about a “Mediterranean race,” referring primarily to southern Europeans, informed the “selectionist” politics of migration experts in both the United States and France beginning in the 1920s who would allow in some migrants but not others. For example, Madison Grant (1865-1937) argued that the U.S. should impose strict quotas on “Mediterranean” migrants from Southern Europe.20 In France, Georges Mauco’s 1932 doctoral thesis on immigration made him the country’s foremost migration expert and led to a series of government appointments over the next four decades. Mauco (1899-1988) did not entirely reject the language of Latinity, which he believed properly referred to ethnicity, the cultural and historic forces that created a nation. However during World War II and immediately thereafter, he famously (and unsuccessfully) proposed that racial categories should guide migratory policy, proposing a 50% quota for Germanic or Nordic migrants, 30% for “Mediterraneans,” and 20% for Slavs.21

Anti-colonialism, Fascism, and the Dream of Federating the Mediterranean

  • 22  Albert Camus, “Native Culture: The New Culture of the Mediterranean”, [1937], in P. Thody (transla (...)

15For Mauco, “Mediterranean migrants,” at least insofar as they were somewhat desirable, referred to southern Europeans, primarily from northern Spain and northern Italy. However beginning in the 1930s, other authors and policymakers were beginning to think of a more inclusive Mediterranean. They presented France as a type of federation, spanning the Mediterranean and including Algerians and other North and Sub-Saharan Africans. This vision was most famously articulated by future Nobel-prize-winning author Albert Camus (1913-1960), beginning in a speech he gave at the Maison de Culture in Algiers in 1937 and in the Maison’s monthly journal, Jeune Méditerranée. Camus drew not on the work of anthropologists but literary celebrations of the Mediterranean circulating in Algiers, the Marseilles-based journal, Cahiers du Sud, and the works of his contemporary Gabriel Audisio (1900-1978). Wading into debates about the Blum-Viollette plan to expand the franchise in Algeria and Fascist Italy’s recent war in Ethiopia, Camus rejected the “Latin” visions of Louis Bertrand and Benito Mussolini in favor of an international, leftist, and more inclusive “Mediterranean.”22

  • 23  William A. Hoisington Jr., “The Mediterranean Committee and French North Africa, 1935-1940”, The H (...)
  • 24  Archives d’histoire contemporaine (Sciences Po), JU14, Haut Comité Méditerranéen et de l’Afrique d (...)

16At the same time, senior French ministers and policy-makers were also seeking a means to respond to the threats of fascist expansion and growing anti-colonialism (and the prospect that France’s enemies could take advantage of colonial discontent in the event of war). Given that some of the most prominent anti-colonial activists were either Algerian migrants like Messali Hadj or international actors like Shakib Arslan, a Druze, living in exile in Geneva and working on issues across the Maghreb, French ministers adopted an explicitly “Mediterranean” framework. The resulting High Mediterranean Committee (Haut Comité Méditerranéen), founded in 1935 and reformed in 1936, brought together academics; the residents and governors general of the colonies; the foreign, interior, and defense ministers, and the president of the council of ministers (i.e., the prime minister).23 At the request of Léon Blum, the High Mediterranean Committee made examining and reforming North African migration one of its priorities for discussion starting in 1937.24 While proposed reforms were postponed due to World War II, the Committee’s discussions and drafts ultimately shaped such postwar actions as the separation of surveillance and social services for North African migrants, as well as the expansion of family allocations to cover migrants whose children resided in Algeria.

  • 25  Because Algerian and other (post-) colonial migrants were not subject to ONI permits, it is diffic (...)

17World War II reinforced France’s dependence on migrants from the western Mediterranean for postwar economic reconstruction and expansion. By 1947 and 1948, it was clear that German prisoners of war would not be available for continued labor, that tensions with the Franco dictatorship (which had come to power with the aid of Hitler and Mussolini) would keep the Spanish border closed for most migrants, and that Polish and Czech migrants would remain behind the Iron Curtain. Thus French Ministry of Labor officials and planners like Jean Monnet looked almost exclusively to migrants from Italy and Algeria. Furthermore, the war had increased the necessity of imperial reforms. During the war, Allied, Vichy, and Free French forces under Charles de Gaulle had competed for Algerians’ loyalty, while increasing the symbolic and material importance of the colonies. After the war, indigenous Algerians were granted citizenship, (unequal) voting rights, and the right to freely migrate between Algeria and metropolitan France. Migration boomed, and Algeria and Italy together supplied perhaps three-quarters of new migrants in France during the first postwar decade.25

Decolonization, European Integration, and the Reinforcing of European Identity

  • 26  Neil MacMaster, Colonial migrants…, op. cit., p. 193.
  • 27  Alexis Spire, Étrangers à la carte: l’administration de l’immigration en France, 1945-1975, Paris, (...)

18The Algerian War, which raged from November 1954 until Algeria’s independence in July 1962, challenged understandings of the Mediterranean as a unifying force. During the war, Camus, Audisio (by then managing press, media, and cultural policies for the Algerian Government General’s offices in Paris), and others worked to further develop and articulate their vision of the Mediterranean as uniting metropolitan France and North Africa. Ultimately however, their efforts convinced few. On a more quotidian level, attempts by rival FLN and MNA Algerian nationalist groups to remake migrant sensibilities and shield their members from their rivals and the French state deepened the gulf between Algerian migrants and French neighbors and co-workers.26 Moreover, the intense violence of the conflict, which had seen war carried out on both sides of the Mediterranean, reinforced stereotypes of violent, “Arab” males. Suspicion of Algerian migrants was further strengthened after the conflict by the “repatriation” of colonial bureaucrats into the metropolitan French bureaucracy, where many assumed jobs responsible for migration.27

  • 28  Philippe Dewitte, Deux siècles…, op. cit., p. 75.
  • 29  Alexis Spire, Étrangers à la carte…, op. cit., Annexe; CAC, 19950493 art. 6, Michel Massenet (sign (...)

19In the long-term, the war and independence had mixed effects on practices of migration. On the one hand, it overturned the claim that Algerians were all French citizens and (admittedly fitful and incomplete) policies to deliver on the promise of republican equality. On the other hand, the Evian Accords ending the Algerian War left open the possibility of French citizenship for those who desired and even for Algerian citizens, guaranteed migrants’ non-political rights in France. These were interpreted as including the right to move, work, reside, and obtain social security benefits. Given continued problems in the Algerian economy dating from the colonial era and the upheaval caused by the conflict itself, Algerian migrants availed themselves of these freedoms. The Algerian population in France in fact doubled between 1962 and 1975.28 However in response to Algerian freedoms, French Ministry of Labor officials loosened restrictions on European migrants, which particularly benefited Italians, as well as Spaniards and Portuguese in the 1960s.29 These migrants would frequently enter France as tourists, find a job, and then have their status regularized.

20At the same time as decolonization was taking place, re-Europeanizing the territories of states like France and by default ending citizenship for most non-Europeans, the founding of the European Economic Community (EEC) solidified ideas about a particularly “European” identity and gave it a new juridical status outside of colonial contexts. While the EEC was not founded primarily to deal with migration, migration was always an integral part of the Common Market in goods, services, capital, and labor. Migration was the topic of articles 48 through 51 of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, founding the EEC. As a result of the Treaty and a series of implementing regulations between 1961 and 1968, EEC nationals gained the right to freely move, reside, and take up paid employment in other EEC countries, subject only to safeguards for order and public safety. Self-employment and the offering of professional services abroad were thornier issues to regulate, but gradually restrictions were lifted. EEC migrants gained access to social rights, such as health insurance, unemployment, disability, and old-age pensions on the same terms as nationals. Furthermore through the concept of “totalization,” workers earned “credit” for work they did in any EEC country in determining these social benefits. Together, these measures not only ensured legal equality amongst workers, lest migrants undercut wages, but consciously removed barriers to movement. In the process, a common European space of labor and welfare was begun, although different national regimes for benefits mean that this space remains not fully harmonized or uniform to this day.

The Mediterranean Beyond Europe

  • 30  Archives nationales, Paris, CARAN, AP/577/3, “Réunion du Haut comité de la population et de la fam (...)
  • 31  CAC, 19950493 art. 6, Direction de la population et des migrations, Unsigned, “Note sur les nouvea (...)

21As the concept of being “European” was strengthened through decolonization and the founding of the EEC, that which lay beyond Europe’s frontiers was increasingly defined as “Mediterranean.” By the 1960s and 1970s, the term “Mediterranean” was frequently used in contradistinction to “Europeans” in French governmental discourses about migrants, including those of President de Gaulle himself.30 For example, a Ministry of Labor report in early 1974 distinguished between European workers/workforce [la main-d’œuvre européenne] and “workers from Mediterranean basin countries.” In this report, “European” countries included Southern European countries like Portugal, including countries with a Mediterranean coastline like Yugoslavia. In contrast, Turkey joined the states of North Africa as a “Mediterranean” country. Most tellingly, what seemed to define whether a country was “European” or “Mediterranean” was not geography but the desirability of migrants. “Mediterranean” migrants, the report continued, presented substantial “problems of public order when the concentration of foreigners exceeded certain limits.” The report thus validated then-fashionable discourses of a “saturation point” (seuil de tolérance), which posited that racism and xenophobia were a natural consequence of the differences between certain migrant groups and the French population, manifest when there were “too many” of these migrants.31

  • 32  Yvan Gastaut, L’Immigration et l’opinion en France sous la Ve République, Paris, Le Seuil, 2000, p (...)
  • 33  Patrick Weil, La France et ses étrangers: l’aventure d’une politique de l’immigration (1938-1991), (...)

22Furthermore by the early 1970s, migration was slowly re-emerging as a topic in the public consciousness. Migrant numbers were increasing, but just as important was their changing origin, with increasing numbers coming from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. These were groups that had long been deemed by the French public as less able to assimilate. Moreover, the real problems that migrants faced, such as often appalling housing conditions in shantytowns [bidonvilles], became, in the eyes of some, evidence that migrants themselves were the problem.32 Against a backdrop of violence against Algerian migrants and while hosting a meeting of leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement in the autumn of 1973, Algerian President Boumediene declared a moratorium on migration, insisting on greater respect for Algerian workers and re-affirming Algeria’s sovereignty.33

  • 34  Sylvain Laurens, “‘1974’ et la fermeture des frontières: analyse critique d’une décision érigée en (...)
  • 35  Vincent Viet, Histoire des Français venus d’ailleurs, Paris, Perrin, 2004, p. 250-253.

23The oil crisis later that year and in 1974 –sparked by the Yom Kippur War and subsequent oil embargo– likewise presented an opportunity for French bureaucrats and ministers to publicly demonstrate control over what had until recently been a rather open system of migration. The prospect of recession, higher prices, and rising unemployment gave bureaucrats and ministers in countries like the Federal Republic of Germany and France cover to declare an end to migrant recruitment programs.34 EEC nationals, however, were explicitly spared. While migrants from Spain and Portugal –both non-EEC members– felt the effects of the moratoriums, they were not targeted at French borders. Nor were they targeted for incentives to “return” like Algerians.35

  • 36  Alexis Spire, Étrangers à la carte…, op. cit., p. 245.

24Migration in France and the Mediterranean Basin did not end in 1973 and 1974, despite the declaration of moratoriums. Family reunification was later permitted, even encouraged, and refugees continued to seek asylum. Moreover, thousands of individuals continued to enter European countries without work or residency visas. However following the 1968 and 1972 crackdowns on the practice of regularizing the status of migrants who had entered France as “tourists” and then found work, the moratoriums severely curtailed the opportunities for migrants to obtain legal work and residence. “Non-European” migrants in particular became increasingly relegated to a state of legal “clandestinity” in the shadows of society, even as migrant rights organizations became increasingly vocal –and visible.36 Moreover, the prolonged economic crisis created real economic hardships for migrants. Migrants were often the first to lose their jobs and many sectors of migrant employment, such as construction and manufacturing, were hard hit by high interest rates, automation, and other long-term structural changes.

25Meanwhile in 1973, the EEC admitted new member-states for the first time. This first wave of EEC enlargement led to the beginnings of a coherent Mediterranean policy, the so-called “Global Approach.” Each of the new members had applied different tariff regimes to products from non-member states in the Mediterranean, which needed to be harmonized with EEC tariffs. Moreover, some of the association and commercial agreements with these non-member states were soon due for re-negotiation. European ministers decided to pursue a common approach to non-EEC countries in the Mediterranean, lest concessions to one state be claimed by other states in the Mediterranean Basin. Industrial preferences were relatively easy to agree upon. Agricultural negotiations were less productive, given competition between France, Italy, and many non-member states in products such as tomatoes, olive oil, wine, and citrus fruits. Furthermore, the Algerian government sought a more comprehensive accord that would cover developmental aid and rights for migrants. The failure of the Mediterranean Global approach to include provisions for migrants and its relatively modest success in general confirmed fears that European enlargement would only increase the gulf between “Europe” and “Mediterranean” countries on issues ranging from economic to migratory policy.

  • 37  Liliana Suárez Navaz, Rebordering the Mediterranean…, op. cit., p. 56.
  • 38  Archives du ministère des Affaires étrangères (MAE), Europe: Espagne: 427, Brunet, Telegram, “L’Es (...)
  • 39  “Italy to Hold State Funeral for Migrants”, BBC News, available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/new (...)

26In the 1980s, the EEC expanded again to include Greece, Spain, and Portugal, paving the way for future enlargement to nearly all countries on the Mediterranean’s northern shores. The 1985 Schengen Agreement and 1990 Schengen Convention further required European states to harmonize some of their visa categories and surrender some of their autonomy vis-à-vis third states on issues of migration. While migration was eased within the EEC/EU with borderless travel, new and less flexible borders were drawn on its external borders. The Mediterranean Basin was now even more firmly divided between north and south.37 When future President Sarkozy proposed a Mediterranean Union during his 2007 election campaign, critics, such as the Turkish government, feared that it would institutionalize the Mediterranean as a place for those permanently frozen outside of “Europe” proper. In this light, the words of a Spanish diplomat in 1971 become all the more prescient. “It [is] imperative that Spain be henceforth regarded by its neighbors more as a European country than as Mediterranean.”38 Rather than the cradle of European civilization, the Mediterranean had become its borderland. Every year the peril of this border is manifest as up to 40,000 or 60,000 migrants attempt to cross the sea in boats. Perhaps 800 to 1600 drown, trying to reach “Europe.”39

Conclusion

27In concluding, the study of French discourses about migrants reveals that the referent for the “Mediterranean” and “Mediterranean migrants” drifted southward during the course of the 20th century. The Mediterranean went from being roughly synonymous with southern European geography and Latin culture to something uniting Europe and its colonies, albeit not on entirely equal terms. Finally, it became most closely associated with the inhabitants of the sea’s southern and eastern shores.

28These shifts reflect in part a series of geopolitical transitions that first challenged and then dissolved France’s empire while rebuilding and strengthening notions of European solidarity after two world wars. They also reflect closely related changes in patterns of migration. Migrants to France overwhelmingly came from Italy, Spain, Algeria and Central Europe during the interwar period and Italy and Algeria in the first post-World War II decade. In the late 1950s, Spain was partially reintegrated into European economic and political exchanges. Spanish migration boomed, as did Portuguese migration in the late 1960s, even as Italian migration to France slowed to a trickle. In the 1970s and 1980s however, French immigrants predominantly came from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Southeast Asia.

29The timing of these migratory shifts meant that the right to freely migrate as nationals of the EEC and later European Union was generally obtained after the apogee of Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese migration. In contrast, subjects of the former colonies have had their access to legal work and residence in France slowly restricted, even as migration has increased. In both instances, the result has been that the “Mediterranean” has remained ever on the margins of “Europe” and “Europeans.” The recurring image of the Mediterranean as a space bringing together fundamentally different peoples could be aspirational, emphasizing fusion or peace, or it could emphasize deep-seated conflict. But the Mediterranean rarely effaced a conviction of underlying racial differences, and it never escaped the orbit of an increasingly united Europe, whose borders it continues to reveal.

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Notes

1  Ambroise Got, “L’assimilation des étrangers”, Mercure de France, vol. 158, nº 580, 15 August 1922, p. 11-12. See also Ambroise Got, “L’assimilation des étrangers”, Mercure de France, vol. 170, nº 618, 15 March 1924, p. 604. On the reception of Got, see Luís López Ballesteros, “Problemas del trabajo: los españoles en Francia y la política francesa de inmigración”, El Imparcial, 22 May 1925, p. 1.

2  Neil MacMaster, Colonial migrants and racism, New York, St. Martin’s Press, 1997, p. 59.

3  Service National des Statistiques, Mouvements migratoires entre la France et l’étranger, Etude démographique, nº 4, Paris, Imprimerie Nationale, 1943.

4  Census data tabulated in Philippe Dewitte, Deux siècles d’immigration en France, Paris, Documentation française, 2003, p. 75.

5  A key text making such a connection in a Spanish context in the 1980s and 1990s is Liliana Suárez Navaz, Rebordering the Mediterranean: boundaries and citizenship in Southern Europe, New York, Berghahn Books, 2004, p. 54-55.

6  On migrants and the French nation-state, see for example, Elisa Camiscioli, Reproducing the French race: immigration, intimacy, and embodiment in the early twentieth century, Durham, NC, Duke University Press, 2009; and Mary Dewhurst Lewis, The boundaries of the republic: migrant rights and the limits of universalism in France, 1918-1940, Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press, 2007. On the intellectual genesis of the Mediterranean, see for example, Florence Deprest, “L’invention géographique de la Méditerranée: éléments de réflexion”, Espace géographique, nº 31, 2002, p. 73-92; Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The corrupting sea: a study of Mediterranean history, Oxford, Blackwell, 2000; and Anne Ruel, “L’invention de la Méditerranée”, Vingtième Siècle, nº 32, October-December 1991, p. 7-14.

7  Marie-Noëlle Bourguet et al., L’Invention scientifique de la Méditerranée: égypte, Morée, Algérie, Paris, Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, 1998.

8  Jerry Bentley, “Seas and ocean basins as frameworks of historical analysis”, Geographical review, vol. 89, nº 2, April 1999, p. 215-224.

9  Philippe Dewitte, Deux siècles…, op. cit., p. 75.

10  Neil MacMaster, Colonial migrants…, op. cit., p. 52 and p. 223.

11  Ibid., p. 41.

12  Paul Silverstein, “Immigrant racialization and the new savage slot: race, migration, and immigration in the new Europe”, Annual Review of Anthropology, 2005, p. 363-384.

13  Archives d’histoire contemporaine (Sciences Po), JU14, Haut Comité Méditerranéen et de l’Afrique du Nord, rapport nº 3 “Les Nord-Africains en France”, session de Mars 1937, p. 17; Institut national d’études démographiques, “Les Avantages démographiques et économiques de l’immigration”, La Documentation française notes documentaires et études, nº 940, Paris, Direction de la Documentation, 1 July 1948.

14  Käthe Panick, La Race latine: politischer Romanismus im Frankreich des 19. Jahrhunderts, Bonn, Röhrscheid, 1978; Sarah Al-Matary, Idéalisme latin et quête de ‘race’: un imaginaire politique, entre nationalisme et internationalisme (France-Amérique hispanique, 1860-1933), PhD Thesis, Université Lyon 2, 2008.

15  David Prochaska, Making Algeria French: colonialism in Bône, 1870-1920, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1990, p. 206-229.

16  Patricia Lorcin, Imperial identities: stereotyping, prejudice, and race in colonial Algeria, London, I.B. Tauris, 1995, p. 173.

17  Elisa Camiscioli, Reproducing the French Race…, op. cit.; Pierre-André Taguieff, “Face à l’immigration: mixophobie, xénophobie ou sélection: un débat français dans l’entre-deux-guerres”, Vingtième Siècle, vol. 47, nº 1, 1995, p. 103-131.

18  Calculated from the data in Javier Rubio, La emigración española a Francia, Espulgas de Llobregat, Editorial Ariel, 1974, p. 95, 134, 310.

19  Sarah Al-Matary, “L’homme méditerranéen de Paul Adam: une révision des types forgés par l’anthropologie raciale? (1870-1920)”, in Corinne Saminadayar-Perrin (ed.), L’Invention littéraire de la Méditerranée au xixe siècle, Paris, Geuthner, 2012, p. 229-243; Gilles Boëtsch and Jean-Noël Ferrié, “Du Berbère aux yeux clairs à la race eurafricaine: la Méditerranée des anthropologues physiques”, in Michel Camau and Jean-Claude Santucci (eds.), Annuaire de l’Afrique du Nord, vol. 29, Paris, Éditions du CNRS, 1992, p. 201; Aaron Gillette, Racial theories in fascist Italy, London, Routledge, 2002; Carole Reynaud-Paligot, La République raciale: paradigme racial et idéologie républicaine, 1860-1930, Paris, PUF, 2006, p. 181-182; Giuseppe Sergi, The Mediterranean race: a study of the origin of the European peoples, London, Walter Scott, 1901.

20  Jonathan Spiro, Defending the master race: conservation, eugenics, and the legacy of Madison Grant, Burlington, University of Vermont Press, 2009.

21  Archives nationales, Paris, CARAN, AP/577/5 Fonds Mauco, Draft of article entitled, “Géographie et Ethnographie” (Undated); Patrick Weil, “Georges Mauco, expert en immigration: ethnoracisme pratique et antisémitisme fielleux”, in Pierre-André Taguieff (ed.), L’antisémitisme de plume 1940-1944, études et documents, Paris, Berg International Editeurs, 1999, p. 267-276.

22  Albert Camus, “Native Culture: The New Culture of the Mediterranean”, [1937], in P. Thody (translator), Lyrical and Critical, London, Hamish Hamilton, 1967, p. 188-194; Neil Foxlee, “Mediterranean Humanism or Colonialism with a Human Face? Contextualizing Albert Camus’ ‘The New Mediterranean Culture’”, Mediterranean Historical Review, vol. 21, nº 1, June 2006, p. 77-97.

23  William A. Hoisington Jr., “The Mediterranean Committee and French North Africa, 1935-1940”, The Historian, vol. 53, nº 2, Winter 1991, p. 255-266.

24  Archives d’histoire contemporaine (Sciences Po), JU14, Haut Comité Méditerranéen et de l’Afrique du Nord, rapport nº 3 “Les Nord-Africains en France”, March 1938.

25  Because Algerian and other (post-) colonial migrants were not subject to ONI permits, it is difficult to determine an overall sum of migrants. My estimates are calculated from the data in Javier Rubio, La emigración española…, op. cit., p. 289, 296; Neil MacMaster, Colonial migrants…, op. cit., p. 223; and Centre des Archives Contemporaines (CAC), 19950493 art. 6, “Note sur l’évolution des régularisations”, 24 June 1974.

26  Neil MacMaster, Colonial migrants…, op. cit., p. 193.

27  Alexis Spire, Étrangers à la carte: l’administration de l’immigration en France, 1945-1975, Paris, Grasset and Fasquelle, 2005, p. 221-222; Sylvain Laurens, Une politisation feutrée: les hauts fonctionnaires et l’immigration en France, 1962-1981, Paris, Belin, 2009, p. 88-97.

28  Philippe Dewitte, Deux siècles…, op. cit., p. 75.

29  Alexis Spire, Étrangers à la carte…, op. cit., Annexe; CAC, 19950493 art. 6, Michel Massenet (signed), “Propositions concernant la politique française d’immigration”, 4 December 1967.

30  Archives nationales, Paris, CARAN, AP/577/3, “Réunion du Haut comité de la population et de la famille à l’Elysée, le 12 décembre 1967, sous la Présidence du général de Gaulle…”; Archives nationales, Paris, CARAN, AP/577/3 Philippe Serre, “Le Problème de l’accueil et de l’adaptation des travailleurs étrangers”, January 1968.

31  CAC, 19950493 art. 6, Direction de la population et des migrations, Unsigned, “Note sur les nouveaux aspects d’une politique d’immigration”, 10 January 1974.

32  Yvan Gastaut, L’Immigration et l’opinion en France sous la Ve République, Paris, Le Seuil, 2000, p. 83.

33  Patrick Weil, La France et ses étrangers: l’aventure d’une politique de l’immigration (1938-1991), Paris, Gallimard, 2005, p. 99.

34  Sylvain Laurens, “‘1974’ et la fermeture des frontières: analyse critique d’une décision érigée en turning-point”, Politix, nº 82, 2008/2, p. 90.

35  Vincent Viet, Histoire des Français venus d’ailleurs, Paris, Perrin, 2004, p. 250-253.

36  Alexis Spire, Étrangers à la carte…, op. cit., p. 245.

37  Liliana Suárez Navaz, Rebordering the Mediterranean…, op. cit., p. 56.

38  Archives du ministère des Affaires étrangères (MAE), Europe: Espagne: 427, Brunet, Telegram, “L’Espagne et l’élargissement de la Communauté”, 23 September 1971.

39  “Italy to Hold State Funeral for Migrants”, BBC News, available online at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24456058, last accessed 10 October, 2013.

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Michael A. Kozakowski, « Making “Mediterranean Migrants”: Geopolitical Transitions, Migratory Policy, and French Conceptions of the Mediterranean in the 20th Century », Cahiers de la Méditerranée, 89 | 2014, 181-193.

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Michael A. Kozakowski, « Making “Mediterranean Migrants”: Geopolitical Transitions, Migratory Policy, and French Conceptions of the Mediterranean in the 20th Century », Cahiers de la Méditerranée [En ligne], 89 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 juin 2015, consulté le 19 août 2017. URL : http://cdlm.revues.org/7776

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Auteur

Michael A. Kozakowski

Michael Kozakowski is a Max Weber Fellow at the European University Institute. He obtained his PhD from the history department of the University of Chicago, with the dissertation, “From the Mediterranean to Europe: Migrants, the World of Work, and the Transformation of the French Mediterranean, 1945-1974.” His research focuses on migration in the western Mediterranean during the 20th century, decolonization, and European integration. kozakowski@uchicago.edu

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