This book has attempted a reading of three decades of the history of France from the perspective of a population whose existence was effaced in the great national act of forgetting the emplacement the obelisk served to solemnize. The Arab France that this chapter maps was delocalized and deterritorialized—a space of mobility, exchange, and negotiation; of changing meanings, boundaries, and identities. In retracing the journeys and struggles of a population whose presence within this history has disappeared from view, the chapter poses key questions about mobility, community, and identity, and the relationship between these three dimensions of a shared existence. Only through a recognition of mobility as a constitutive practice of community, rather than as a force eroding traditional social ties, does it become possible to recognize the extent and complexity of this community, which has been lost to “national” history.
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