Paris: North African France: Decolonization, Immigration, and Postcolonial Identity

September Course
Students walk through an archway into the patio garden of the mosque.

Program Term:


Language Requirement:



 Damaris Crocker De Ruiter

Application Deadline:


The College’s September North African France: Decolonization, Immigration, and Postcolonial Identity course provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to earn credit studying the historical intersections between France and North Africa, from France’s imperial colonization of North Africa to political and cultural legacies in the postcolonial era.

The September 2023 program will take place from Friday, August 25, 2023 through Sunday, September 17, 2023. Participants will be required to commit to the full duration of the program in line with these dates.

    North African France: Decolonization, Immigration, and Postcolonial Identity
    Khalid Lyamlahy
    , Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies and the College

    France is home to the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, of which the majority is of North African descent. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, waves of Maghrebi immigrants were subject to various forms of discrimination and violence, often reinforced by the rise of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab sentiments. The long history of racism in France remains entangled with the country’s colonial past and neocolonial engagement with the African continent. In recent years, recurring debates on immigration, secularism, and citizenship have shed light on the enduring legacies of French imperialism and what is widely considered as France’s failure to integrate its African and Muslim minorities. What are the main effects of North African (de)colonization on the construction of French politics and society? How does the history of North African immigration illuminate questions of cultural identity and difference in the French context? How do literary and artistic works on both sides of the Mediterranean engage with individual and collective memories, and enact forms of resistance and emancipation?

    To tackle these questions, this course will address three main themes: 1) the history of colonialism and liberation movements in North Africa and its traces and resonances in France, and more particularly in Paris; 2) the strategies and processes of cultural decolonization in the North African context with a focus on the role of Paris as a center for North African intellectuals and artists; 3) the evolution of North African immigration and the experience of second-generation Maghrebis in Paris and other major French cities as conveyed through political activism, social movements, and cultural production, whether in French, Arabic, or Amazigh (Berber).

    This course will combine a series of site visits with selected readings. For site visits, in addition to walks through historic African and Arab Paris, we will visit several institutions and museums in the French capital including the Institut du Monde Arabe (the Arab World Institute), the Grand Mosque of Paris, the Cité Nationale de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (France’s first national museum on the history of immigration), and the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (a foundation and campus for international students). For further contextualization, we will visit bookstores, libraries, markets, and art collections (mainly the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay) in Paris and its suburbs. Time permitting, we may travel to Marseille to visit the Old Port, the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MUCEM), and other sites of interest.

    This course will include readings from history, sociology, and literature, with a focus on the cultures and contemporary politics of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia from both North African and French perspectives. While drawing on foundational and recent scholarship in French studies, North African studies, and postcolonial studies, we will examine fictional and non-fictional texts by Maghrebi and second-generation Maghrebi authors. We will also analyze a selection of cinematic, artistic, and musical works by Franco-Maghrebi artists as a way to explore the relationship between verbal and visual modes of representation.

    The course will be taught in English, with an option for advanced French students to engage in French coursework through the Languages Across the Curriculum initiative. Please see “Credits and Registration” below for details.

    Headquarters for the College’s study abroad programs in Paris is the University of Chicago Center in Paris, the University’s research and teaching arm in Europe. Situated in the thirteenth arrondissement, the Center in Paris is part of an ambitious intellectual project along the river Seine, including the Bibliothèque Nationale and a new home for Université Paris Cité. The Center in Paris features classrooms, offices for faculty and graduate students, computer facilities, a small library, and an apartment for the faculty director. For participants in Chicago’s programs, the Center in Paris provides a focus for academic activities, a central meeting place, and a continuing Chicago “presence” within one of the major capitals of Europe.

    Students in the September program are housed in a residence hall within the Cité Internationale Universitaire (Cité). The Cité, a park-like residential complex in the fourteenth arrondissement, is the international student campus in Paris, though French students also live there. Students reside in single rooms with a private bath and have access to Cité facilities, including a library, theater, laundry, and athletic facilities. Students will have access to common kitchens in the residence halls and can purchase inexpensive meals at the Cité’s restaurant universitaire.

    It is important to recognize the cultural context of student housing in France and understand that the amenities of dormitory facilities may vary. Although some of these differences may take some getting used to, remember that cultural differences extend to all aspects of your experience abroad. Having realistic expectations for your term in Paris will help you approach the study abroad experience with a positive attitude.

    Participants in the Paris program will take and receive credit for one 100-unit course. This course is considered part of the students’ Summer Quarter course load and is recorded as a course enrollment on their Summer Quarter registration. The September North African France course is taught in English and there are no language prerequisites to apply.

    As a part of the Languages Across the Curriculum (LxC) program, participants with advanced proficiency in French will have the option to enroll in the course under an advanced FREN course number and earn credit toward the French major or minor. To be eligible for the LxC credit, students must have completed FREN 20300 or equivalent, and will read French texts in the original, participate in French discussion groups, and complete written work in French.

    Information about cross-listings for this course is forthcoming. The use of the program course in any other major or minor must be approved by the undergraduate chair of the respective department. The course title, unit of credit, and grade are placed on the College transcript.

    Completion of a September course abroad will earn students 1 point toward Global Honors, the College’s recognition of exceptional global engagement. Visit the Chicago Language Center’s website for information on how to apply for Global Honors.

    Study abroad students pay regular Summer Quarter tuition at the one-course rate, a program fee, and a nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee. The tuition and program fee are paid in conformity with the home campus payment schedule, and the nonrefundable study abroad administrative fee is submitted when accepting a place in a program. Precise figures for Summer 2023 are listed below:

    Summer tuition: as set by the Bursar’s Office for one course

    Study abroad administrative fee: $675

    Paris September program fee: $3,880

    Program fee includes:

    Out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • round-trip airfare to and from the program site
    • transportation on site
    • meals
    • course materials
    • personal entertainment and travel
    • communications (including cell phone usage)
    • health insurance and upfront payments for care
    • other miscellaneous expenses

    Previous program participants report spending in the range of $200 to $250 per week on meals and incidentals while on the program, though frugal students may spend less, and others could spend much more. Bear in mind that the cost of living in Paris is relatively high and that, while it is possible to live frugally, it is also possible to run short of money if you are unwary. It is therefore essential that you budget your funds prudently, apportioning your resources so that they last for the duration of the program. If you are planning to travel before or after the program or on weekends, you should budget accordingly.

    Participants in summer College-sponsored programs are eligible for need-based financial aid, following the procedure described on the Summer Financial Aid page of the Financial Aid website. For more information about financial aid resources, please see our general Tuition, Fees, and Funding section.

    The September program is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only. Applications from outside the University are not accepted.

    The program is designed for undergraduates in good academic and disciplinary standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that they are a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. Because the course is taught in English, there is no language prerequisite to apply. Students who wish to pursue the LxC FREN enrollment for the program should indicate as much within their program application.

    Each application is examined on the basis of the student’s scholastic record and personal statement. If you are interested in applying for this program please fill out the online application.

    To discuss the Paris: North African France: Decolonization, Immigration, and Postcolonial Identity September course and the possibility of participating, please contact Damaris Crocker De Ruiter.