What is it about?

Music in late 20th Century France provides a valuable record of the experience of North African immigrants. North African music was trendy at the time, and many artists with immigrant backgrounds had mainstream hit songs. A broader view of those artists' music, including a comparison of their Arabic and French lyrics, reveals the ambivalent emotions that immigrants face as they negotiate their nostalgia for North African origins and the French xenophobia that they face.

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Why is it important?

Immigration experiences are often documented in writing or in film (literature & cinema), but music is another important way of documenting those experiences. Music is also an integral part of our memories, for example when a song "takes us back" to a moment from our past. For this reason, we should not underestimate the role of popular songs in memorializing immigration experiences through generations.


This music carries a lot of emotion for North African people who were alive in the late 20th C. The songs also connect North Africans beyond national borders, as they were hits in various countries.

Ziad Bentahar
Towson University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Remembering North Africa in French popular music at the turn of the twenty-first century, Crossings Journal of Migration and Culture, October 2021, Intellect,
DOI: 10.1386/cjmc_00043_1.
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