The French Divergence
French Contemporary Efforts to Govern Heterogeneous Space
Several inconsistencies can be observed between modern French political policy and its historical and cultural identity. More specifically, these inconsistencies represent a “divergence” from the embryonic principles of Liberté, Fraternité et Égalité to other less liberal values targeting l’autre, or “the other.” This divergence is illustrated by the contemporary adoption of Le Texte N˚2262, legislation banning the traditional Islamic burqa and niqab, and the amendments to Le Texte N˚2814, which are designed to revoke citizenship from those naturalized. But do these issues give substance to Samuel Huntington’s concept of a clash of civilizations? This paper argues that this shift in French political dialogue is much less deterministic than Huntington’s argument would allow, and arises instead from a myriad of causes. This French divergence is the next chapter in France’s perpetual struggle to govern its cultural space, and a result of collapsing frontiers in the European Union, geo-economic concerns and heightened “orientalism” as a result of terrorism.