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Title: National Places, Cosmopolitan Spaces: Tamil Diaspora in Paris, France
Authors: Berger, Nicole
Advisors: Hammoudi, Abdellah
Thiranagama, Sharika
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: cosmopolitanism
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
South Asian studies
European studies
Issue Date: 2019
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation examines how transnational, national, and local-urban identities are performativity enacted by members of the Tamil diaspora within the urban space of Paris, France. More broadly, the dissertation deals with tensions between cosmopolitanism and nationalism(s) in contemporary urban spaces irrevocably shaped by large-scale transnational migration. Through ethnographic analysis of Parisian Tamil economic activity, cultural and religious festivals, language instruction, arts, and more, the dissertation examines the diverse ways in which Tamil identity is produced and expressed in Paris, with a particular emphasis on how ethnic identity is inscribed in the urban space of La Chapelle, Paris’s Tamil business district. It situates Parisian enactments of Tamil identity within the larger context of Tamil politics rooted in India and Sri Lanka, and spanning a globalized Tamil diaspora. I argue that the politics of Tamil identity-making must be analyzed on several simultaneous levels: 1) in terms of local urban space and the connections it engenders (or forestalls), 2) in terms of nationalist and transnational Tamil political movements, and 3) as not only influenced by, but also influencing, ongoing debates about French national identity. The project of framing a collective Tamil identity in Paris takes place in a context in which French national discourse explicitly rejects a multicultural social model in favor of assimilation. At the same time, this poses a mismatch with on-the-ground realities of a contemporary Paris shaped by international migration and which has, in both official city planning and Parisian daily activity, ambivalently embraced the presence of multiple cultural traditions by claiming cosmopolitanism as a moral value. I also identify how a Tamil-inflected cosmopolitanism emerges in an effort to unify diverse, and sometimes divided, Tamil communities, as well as to enact full belonging in the French national community without ceding a sense of Tamil identity.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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