THIS COURSE TAKES PLACE AT NYU-PARIS. France and the U.S. have a habit of looking at one another as anti-models when it comes to discussions of assimilation and difference, “race,” identity, community and diversity. In this course, we explore this comparison as a productive means for re-considering these terms. Why is the notion of “ethnic community” so problematic in France? And why do Americans insist on the “homogeneity” of the French nation, even as, at various points throughout modern French history, France has received more immigrants to its shores than the United States? Through readings, film screenings, and site visits we explore the movements and encounters that have made Paris a rich, and sometimes controversial, site of cultural exchange. Topics include contemporary polemics on questions such as headscarves, the banlieue, the new Paris museums of immigration and “primitive” art, affirmative action and discrimination positive, historic expressions of exoticism, négritude, and anti-colonialism. Occasional case studies drawn from the American context help provide a comparative framework for these ideas. Conducted in English.