Trica Keaton

Dartmouth College
IMéRA Aix-Marseille
10 months

Research Interests: Racialization, racism, race and their intersections; identity politics in France, Western Europe, and the U.S.A.; Afro/Black Paris & France; Black French Studies

Research Project

“Le cinéma de banlieue:” Refusing and Reinforcing Ethno-racialized Identities and Representations in Post-2005 French Cinema

My project, a book monograph, explores how a genre of French narrative cinema by post-2005 Afro descended creative artists, “le cinéma de banlieue,” responds to the past-present exclusion and typecasting of filmmakers and actors whose racialization-as-black sets them apart in French society.1 The 2005 urban revolts arguably mark a watershed in the visibility of race politics in metropolitan France and were pivotal to the centering of “banlieue” geographies in these artists’ work which “are distinguished, not by their falsity/genuineness, but by the style in which they are imagined,” lived, and represented, following Benedict Anderson.2 At the same time, the 2005 moment defined these artists’ racialized subjectivities, the syntax of their storytelling, their professional identities, and their framing of both French cinema and “French banlieue cinema” as vehicles for exposing, addressing, and redressing their marginalization in society and le septième art. From an interdisciplinary social science perspective, I also show through a multimethod approach how these films struggle to shake off longstanding racialized representations and “banlieue” discourses only unwittingly to reproduce them. Yet, these films are highly nuanced counter-narrations that both gesture toward and challenge what sociologist Paul Gilroy describes as “conviviality,” that is, “the processes of cohabitation and interaction that have made multiculture an ordinary feature of social postcolonial cities.”3 In accentuating the failures of French universalism through a seemingly familiar everyday life, filmmakers of this genre have nevertheless carved out a niche with both critical and box-office success. Although the banlieues outside of Paris are privileged in this genre, insufficient attention has been given to Marseille, France’s symbolic “southern capital,” and its environs. This project seeks to respond to this lacuna while locating these issues within broader, socio-historical struggles for inclusion and recognition by Afro descended actors and filmmakers in the French film industry.


1 Trica Keaton, #You Know You're Black in France When...: The Fact of Everyday Antiblackness (The MIT Press, 2023).
2 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London/New York: Verso Books, 2006), 6.
3 Gilroy, Paul, After Empire: Melancholia or Convivial Culture? (London: Routledge, 2004), xi.


Trica Keaton is an interdisciplinary social scientist whose research, writings, and courses focus on Black French & European Studies; racialization, race, racism and their intersections; and identity politics in France, Western Europe, and the United States. Her book publications include #You Know You're Black in France When...: The Fact of Everyday Antiblackness (The MIT Press, 2023)—shortlisted for the American Library in Paris Book Award and selected by Choice—Black France / France Noire: The History and Politics of Blackness (co-edited, Duke University Press); Black Europe and the African Diaspora (co-edited, University of Illinois Press); and Muslim Girls and the Other France: Race, Identity Politics, and Social Exclusion (Indiana University Press). She is on the editorial board of On Seeing (The MIT Press and Brown University Library), a book series devoted to centering underrepresented perspectives in visual culture. She has organized a variety of conferences and events on Black French Studies throughout her career which have contributed to the evolution of the field. She is the recipient of several competitive awards and fellowships, including from the French Institute for Advanced Study - IMéRA, Dartmouth College's Scholarly Innovation and Advancement Award, the Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, the Ford Foundation, Columbia University's Institute for Scholars at Reid Hall in Paris, and the Chateaubriand Fellowship. She also created and directs an award-winning study abroad program, focused on the African diaspora in Paris and France more broadly.