Arab France: Islam and the Making of Modern Europe, 1798–1831
University of California Press (Inbooks) $39.95 pb, 304 pp, 9780520260658
‘Arab France’ will immediately suggest to some readers debates about the wearing of Muslim headscarves in public schools and, more generally, about the place of North African migrants in contemporary French life, as well as the riots that erupted in 2005 in suburbs with substantial Arabic populations. To others, it may evoke memories of trips to Paris, of sipping mint tea at the elegant mosque near the Jardin des Plantes, visiting an exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe, or strolling through the busy and dépaysant Barbès-Rochechouart neighbourhood. For still others, Arab France may bring to mind the history of French colonialism in the Maghreb and the Middle East, in particular, the troubled history of Algérie Française, and the bloody war that brought to an end the French imperium in North Africa in 1962.