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Retour à saint-fons ou la violence et la honte de naître dans une famille d'immigrés portugais en France dans L'Enfance de la chanteuse Catherine Ribeiro.

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Martine F. Wagner

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Published during Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidency, L’Enfance (Childhood) is an autobiographical and pamphletary text in which French-Portuguese singer, Catherine Ribeiro, reflects on the links between her (artistic) freedom, her political activism and the lack of personal, national, and professional recognition. In this article, I argue that, like other writers of working class origins inspired by sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, such as Annie Ernaux (recently in Retour à Yvetot) or Didier Eribon in Retour à Reims, Ribeiro returns to her childhood in Saint-Fons, not so much to make a critique of her abusive mother and absent father, but rather to do an “auto-socio-[ethno-] analysis” of her Portuguese immigrant upbringing in the suburbs of Lyon in the forties and fifties. Her original autobiography, mixed with excerpts of her protest songs, allows the reader to better understand the roots of her politically engaged life and career. Ultimately, she argues for a recognition of Portuguese immigrants and their descendants’ contributions in France, including her own.


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Anderson University

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