Overseas: how are metropolitan residents perceived in Martinique?


19:05, 19 August 2022 A government reshuffle that puts the Ministry of Overseas Territories under the supervision of the Home Office and a debate in the National Assembly that rejects the amendment on adaptation of the bonus of purchasing power in overseas territories will have been enough to reactivate tensions between foreign and French politicians. These tensions must be reflected with others that exist within the same territories where the overseas and metropolitan live. Our recent book explores these complex identities and interactions based on a field survey conducted between 2010 and 2014 on the metropolitan population of Martinique, updated between 2016 and 2020. To better understand the meaning of their presence in these far-flung French territories of France, and in that they are immediately assimilated to migrants by the local population, we have interviewed metropolitans in Martinique from their migration project, their experience there, to their prospects of staying or leaving. Many are the topics linked to this migratory experience and which highlight the tensions between metropolitans and the local population. Whether it is the local preference for employment, the fight against real estate speculation, the defense of tangible and intangible cultural heritage, the opposition to the authorities in the face of the health crisis management (Covid-19), these issues build representations of the social relations between the groups present, the public on these divisive issues sometimes adopts the tone of humor/mockery, sometimes that of social, cultural or political vindication. Beyond the perception that metropolitans have of themselves, as well as the way in which they are perceived by the local population. , it is important to see what place the discourse of the actors occupies in the local public space. Who are the metropolitans? The metropolitans are first of all these white settlers who come to settle in another land from the colonial metropolis during the 17th century Having become planters, today they are culturally dissociated from it, through the creolization carried out over several generations (Békés) The term metropolitan then qualifies those who form new waves of arrival, through the operational positions of the colonial State local (governor, administration). , army, nursing staff, and from 1870, teaching staff) until 1946 with law 46-451 which tends to the classification as French departments of Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion and French Guiana. From the 70s and 80s, the effects of legislation and specific taxation measures favored and diversified metropolitan migration. Officials and private entrepreneurs, encouraged by the economic benefits (surcharges, tax exemptions, etc.), are now joined by retirees (quiet life, favorable climate, etc.), small artisans who are sometimes “adventurers” (earning – know life well). , earn money, etc.) or even people in a precarious situation (poverty less visible in the sun) Whatever the motivation underlying the desire to emigrate, metropolitans plan ahead. Even those who are the object of a professional assignment (three or four consecutive years), have previously spent holidays there or have benefited from friends on site who have ensured the transition to this step. Here is something of the order of protocol and industry, fueled by a kind of imagination of the French tropics. Finally, the metropolitans are those white French from France who go abroad for professional or personal reasons, and stay there for a variable period. . They are part of the socio-historical construction of these French possessions Read also – Fuel prices in overseas France: “A discount at the pump would not be a luxury, but a principle of equality” A “double presence” of the French In France, none French has called itself metropolitan since the beginning, while abroad, no one is surprised by this designation, not even those who are trapped in this categorization. The qualification is considered as if the relationship with the former colonial metropolis continues to define a “double presence” of the French in these former colonies. We grasp the bias of this social construction when we observe that there are several ways of identification available to the actors. .). They develop forms of circulation and anchoring in relation to their projects, of course, but in pre-established formal social frameworks that are familiar to them, their arrival, they build sealing zones: places of residence, choice of school, type of leisure Others think of their inclusion through “localism”, try to get closer to local universes, respect the social distances conducive to their recognition (participation in local festivals, respect for social rhythms, friendly and family relationships). A quantitative study yet to be done should provide a refined representation of the forms and degrees of integration of the metropolitan population on the ground. designating them alone, as French when the overseas are also French, leads to suspect separatism of whoever designates. It is the autonomy of the actors, through different identification processes that are offered to them, that allows us to grasp at what moment the metropolitan ceases to be a “migrant”. It is she, again, who authorizes any non-white person from France to perceive themselves and/or be perceived as a metropolitan. A separate media treatment? Trapped by the discourses of which he is the object, the metropolitan also comes from media formats. Its phenotype and tonic accent, stigmas in terms of social representations, highlight the stereotypes of a homogeneous group far from the local population, and whose members appear socially dominant. Also read – Covid-19: 186 personalities and associations write to Macron to denounce the lack of resources in the Overseas TerritoriesA continuum of discourse on overseas metropolitan migration, limited by the time of daily life on the one hand, and the time of social crises on the other, reveals a thematic permanence related to this migration, but also a similarity in their forms of treatment. Metropolitans are often mocked by local populations who hold a number of prejudices against them. These categorizations present ways of looking at those who come from “out there” (them versus us); they are periodically revisited by artists who address recurrent situations in these intergroup relations. Exacerbated inequalities All these stereotypes refer to cultural difference as much as they reveal exacerbated social inequalities. Experiencing their numerical minority in situ, the metropolitans note the differences between the metropolis and overseas territories that they question through complaints and value judgments, or in the sense of adaptation to local life. their role as dominant social actors). Either they are representatives of the state in situ, or they have the economic, financial or cultural power, except that here, the troublemakers belong to the ethnic majority of the population of the territory. Other less extreme social relationships involving teaching or care staff, business leaders or service managers lend themselves to the same analysis. Visible frustrations and imbalance The metropolitan presence enjoys favorable conditions while all poverty indicators are higher than those of France, the which never ceases to awaken. frustration and complaints against unfair situations experienced in situ. This observation is no less real despite the remarkable evolution of the spectrum of migrants, from the figure of the safe “expatriate” to that of the ill-informed “adventurer”, concrete and visible territorial inscription. Overrepresented in coastal tourist areas, they are present in other business areas, compared to sectors with less facilities and activities. If there is a personal part in the desire to emigrate from metropolitan France to the overseas territories, it seems difficult to rule out the system effect through the action of political and institutional, legislative and administrative, economic and social, cultural and artistic support , a migration towards transnational representations. For the most part, and whatever their ideological orientation, metropolitans do not reflect on the place they occupy, the role they collectively play abroad. The denial of colonial history is embedded in the meanings given to the evidence of its presence in these territories, which could well constitute the singularity of this migration. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.
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