An overview of Génériques’s work on memory, immigration and space in France and in Europe, 1987-present
France has a long history of immigration dating back to the 19th century. Until recently, it had thehighest number of immigrants in Europe. Those immigrants and their descendants have left traces oftheir passage in France. As groups of immigrants arrived, towns and villages changed to reflect thecultural, religious and social elements of the newcomers. For instance, in some parts of Paris, theJewish immigrants who came from Central and Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies changed considerably the Marais area (shops, synagogues, food stalls etc.). Today, eventhough the Marais still bears signs of this Jewish heritage, the area has become a hotspot for ayoung, international population who probably knows little or nothing about the Marais's Jewish past.A telling example of the relationship between immigration and are the numerous towns built on theperiphery of Paris in the 20th centuries. Known as banlieues in French, they reflect the history of thedifferent waves of immigrants that have inhabited them: mainly Russians, Germans, Italians andPoles before 1945; Spanish, Portuguese, North-African, African, Asian migrants after 1945. Thesesites are interesting for anyone interested in the relationship between space, memory andimmigration.How does space reflect the memory of past immigration? And how? What does this space reveal?What memory(ies) and past(s) does it tell? For whom? And why?Those questions are at the heart of the work of the association Génériques. Created in 1987,Génériques is Paris-based association that works on the history and memory of immigration inFrance and in Europe (19th-20th centuries). Collecting and preserving the memory of immigrants,including their impact on space, is at the core of its mission. Amongst its many projects and activities,Génériques has worked extensively on projects focusing on the relationship between space, memoryand immigration, at the regional, national and European levels. This paper will present some of theprojects Génériques has worked on. The aim of the paper is to share and enrich discussions onmemory, immigration and space.