Citizenship and Belonging in Suburban France: The Music of Zebda Jonathan Ervine
AbstractDrawing on a wide range of Francophone and Anglophone writing by critics such as Bazin (1995), Boucher (1998), Huq (2006) and Mitchell (2001), this article explores how the music of the multi-ethnic French band Zebda examines issues of citizenship and belonging in suburban France. It focuses on local, national and transnational identities as well as issues of difference, discrimination and exclusion. Zebda’s music in general will be situated in relation to relevant musical and sociological contexts, before a specific song is analysed in depth. The song in question is J’y suis j’y reste (“I’m here I’m staying here”), which exemplifies how Zebda’s music has engaged with issues such as discrimination, racism and integration. The article shows how the song’s lyrics and music reflect Zebda’s hybrid identities and a desire to challenge French Republican concepts of nationhood. It argues that J’y suis j’y reste highlights several of the key issues that gave rise to the autumn 2005 unrest in suburban France, and provides a vibrant example of political engagement within contemporary French popular music.
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