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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Post-Colonial Cultures and Globalization in France


Most of the papers in this colloquium relate to the territories which the European powers built up overseas during a period of several centuries, part of a process which some theorists of globalization have referred to as a kind of globalization avant la lettre. During the colonial period, the main direction of population flows was from Europe to the overseas empires in America, Africa, Asia and Oceania plus forced migrations from Africa to the Americas. One of the unexpected consequences of European empires and their dissolution has been a reversal of those original North to South migratory flows. Since the end of empire, there have been significant population flows from South to North, i.e. from formerly colonized territories to Europe, leading to the rise of post-colonial minorities within the heartland of the former colonial powers. Post-colonial migrants and their descendants constitute new minorities in Europe not only in a demographic sense but also in their social, political and cultural status. Unlike the United States, which from 1965 onwards gave priority to skills-based criteria in selecting migrants, in Europe during the same period the majority of immigrants from former colonies were unskilled and often illiterate. Not surprisingly, the languages they brought with them have generally remained highly marginalized in relation to the national languages of the countries in which they have settled.

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