Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Fordham University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Harvard University
Parisian Junction, Transnational Crossroads: Remaking Social and Political Experience at the Gare du Nord

This ethnographic research project examines the social life of Paris's Gare du Nord, a contested public space that illuminates contemporary struggles in urban French society. As Europe's busiest train station, the Gare du Nord is a site of intersecting and conflicting representations, practices, and trajectories. Its users include passengers taking the Eurostar to London, middle-class commuters from Paris' outer suburbs, and African-French Muslim youth from the Parisian periphery for whom the station is a social destination. Since the March 2007 "riot" that occurred there, it has come to symbolize, on the national level, the potential for disorder in postcolonial French society. On the contrary, local neighborhood narratives represent the Gare as a positive space of social convergence. By examining this site of contested social interaction, my research seeks to answer the following questions: 1) How have new types of urban subjectivity and political contestation emerged in the Gare du Nord, as a result of converging macro-forces and everyday social interaction, and 2) how do events and interactions in this space both illuminate and provoke changes in the social and political landscape of contemporary France? In order to answer these questions, I will conduct 12 months of fieldwork, comprised of archival research on the station's history in the context of French urban planning, interviewing city planners and officials, and doing intensive and sustained participant-observation and interviews with four station populations.